Lessons & Reflections from the National Butterfly Center
Day after day, we lead people outside who have very little exposure to it; children and adults who don’t know what to do in the wild, or on a walk. We have a very short list of tips for them we consider basic skills for the field, and the more I repeat them to others the more practical applications I find for them in “real life” situations.
1) Be quiet and listen. Oh, boy. This is a big one. I am sure you have a million examples of ways in which this one has saved your a** or where failing to do so has left you in a pickle. I’ve missed the ringing of the dinner bell. I’ve heard (and therefore seen) an Indigo “rattle” his tail. I’ve recklessly drowned out the telltale words of a liar and reveled in the joyful song of the Long-billed Thrasher. It’s hard to go wrong by keeping your mouth shut and your ears open.
2) Watch where you step. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stepped in it, literally and metaphorically, by throwing caution to the wind. Falling prey to fiery beds of ants and steaming piles of scat, or getting snared in well laid traps and webs of deceit do not happen when you take care to tread lightly. Pay attention to what lies ahead because the path can be breathtakingly beautiful or fraught with peril, but only the sure-footed are able to avoid the landmines and enjoy the adventure.3) Relax! You’re not a flower. It takes less than a second for a bee to realize your floral perfume or scented shampoo is a ruse, so chill out; you’re not really a target and time is on your side. If you walk through the Garden terrified of the Sting, every trip around the sun is squandered. Take a lesson from the butterflies, instead, and drink deeply from every well of sweet stuff you can find. Suck it up, Buttercup!
Field lessons, for life.