I spent an afternoon at Phipps Conservatory recently, and was delighted to discover the butterfly room, something that I would definitely add to the growing list on Renee’s recent post. Among the plants, butterflies fly around and linger on flowers and on the glass windows. I could have spent hours in front of the cases that contained the chrysalises of various butterflies, watching as they emerged, dried their wings, and slowly came to life.
There is something about butterflies that has always fascinated us. They appear in the folklore and art of almost every culture, and according to The Watkins Dictionary of Symbols, they have appeared as symbols of light-mindedness, resurrection, souls, longevity, vanity, good fortune, joy, and marital bliss. Poets as varied as William Wordsworth, Czeslaw Milosz, and Emily Dickinson (among many others) have used butterflies to evoke symbolic imagery. And Vladimir Nabokov, besides being a hugely influential novelist, was so passionate about butterflies that he was also a successful lepidopterist.
Soon the butterflies will be gone for the season, but you may still be able to catch a glimpse of a few in the next week or so at Phipps. Or have a look at one of our many books on butterflies, to keep a little bit of spring alive as the weather turns cooler!