"Some days enlighten our understanding of the world without, and within." - KJ Rajah
Many years ago, I lived in a doer-upper cottage that backed on to Belmont Regional Park. We owned a ¼ acre property, plentiful in native plants and trees. This meant visiting Kereru (the New Zealand Pigeon) would land regularly in one of our plum trees to sup on the delicious fruit.
We also had a few trees that attracted Tui—the bird whose voice and song is an, almost, existential experience. Our garden was full of green, lush, grass and I swear one day I actually saw a picture book illustration come alive: a common thrush pulled a worm from the ground, and then flew away.
This was the yard I stepped into the day the butterfly spoke to me. It was a day not unlike any other. I was to take my routine stroll to the letterbox, about 25 metres up an overgrown path that passed a pine and some plum trees.
But on this occasion, when I opened my red front door, my senses were accosted by the fleeting beauty of a butterfly. Initially, I thought it was a Monarch—one of the most colourful butterflies known to man. So, I followed it to the trunk of the pine tree where it came to rest.
It wasn’t a Monarch, although, it did possess very pretty wings. I stilled myself and peered as it spread its forewings to hug the pine tree. I gasped. Behind each outstretched wing was a complex pattern hidden on the hindwings. Painted on each hindwing were four white spots; each one was rimmed by a black circle and they all were embedded on a patch of orange.
What a sight! Each spot looked like an eye and there were now eight looking back at me. And that’s when it began to speak—not really the butterfly, more my heart.
Did you know that every person has a beautiful pattern they keep hidden behind their forewings?
Yes. Even you!
‘Oh. No. I didn’t realise there was a pattern hiding on the hindwings of every human being. I didn’t even know we had wings.’
When the Tui came, it landed too harshly in the nearby Kowhai tree and not only the yellow bell-like flowers were rattled, my enlightening butterfly was too. Its exhibitive display urgently shut down, and it flew off into the day without as much as a ‘ka kite’—see you again.
Goodbye, I waved and continued my way to the letter box. When I returned to my house, I spent an hour writing of my butterfly encounter. It turns out my new friend was a Red Admiral—a native New Zealand flying insect that lives only in certain regions.
What a privilege! Not only had I seen a Red Admiral, but I realised how each of us has, written beneath our protective surfaces, a distinct pattern for greatness. And now, I had the power to see it. I just needed to find the best way to encourage it out of hiding.
Click Red Admiral to see a photo of this beautiful butterfly.