Many years ago, I lived in a cottage plentiful in native plants and trees. This meant the Kereru (New Zealand Pigeon) would regularly visit, landing in our plum trees. There, the birds would perch for many moments of supping on our delicious fruit.
We also had a few Kowhai trees that attracted Tui. Now, this is a glorious bird who around the time when Maui fished up the land was handed the gift of song. And Tui loved to sing, and with so many vocal pitches, why would she not.
As you can imagine our garden was full of beauty and our grass, lush and green. It was a place of nature, and after the rains, I would watch the activity outside on the lawn. One day, I watched Thrush pull a worm from the ground, and then fly away with it in its beak. It was a beautiful setting where something unexpected was, more often than not, likely to happen.
And it did. For one day, not unlike any other where I'ld take my usual stroll to the letterbox, a butterfly spoke to me. Without the word of a lie, I'll tell you what happened.
As you know, I was going to stroll to my letterbox, which is situated about 25 metres up our overgrown path, passed the overburdened pine tree and our hearty plum tree.
However, on this particular morning, this didn't happen, because when I opened my front door, my senses were accosted by a fleeting butterfly.
I followed it to the trunk of the pine tree where it came to rest. I knew instantly, it wasn’t Monarch, although, it did possess very pretty wings. To inspect it further, I stilled myself and peered. I breathed gently and quietly. My mind as still as my body. And then it happened, the sweet thing spread its forewings as if to hug the tree. A greenie after my own heart!
I gasped, for behind each of the outstretched wings lay hidden a simple, yet delightful pattern.
What a sight!
Painted on each delicate hindwing were four white spots individually rimmed by a black circle. They all were embedded on a blotch of bright orange. It was magical, as if the faeries had been up all night painting!
Each spot clearly looked like an eye. And if I'm not mistaken, all of the eyes were looking at me! And that's when the unusual thing unfolded.
The butterfly began to speak.
'Did you know, every person has a beauty pattern they keep hidden behind their forewings?'
It said this in a soft, almost furry tone.
‘Really,' I replied, 'even me?’
'Most especially you,' it said, 'for you seem downcast today.'
‘Oh, I'm not sad. Honest.' I replied, 'I'm just lonely.'
'Well, we shall rectify that.’ She said, earnestly, and then added, ‘I will make it my job to come and visit you everyday.’
But, just before I opened my mouth to respond, silly, musically talented Tui landed too harshly in the Kowhai tree nearby. Urgently, the butterfly shut down her vulnerable exhibition and flew above my head in a spin while Tui feasted on the yellow bell-flowers of the tree.
Rightfully so, I took to my strolling up to the letterbox, but noticed butterfly still flited and flirted near my hand, my arm, and then my face. I stopped once more, stood gentle and still - would she speak again?
'Is this time tomorrow, best?' she asked.
I checked my watch and replied, 'yes please.’ And then I simply waved her goodbye as if it were an everyday occurence.
'Ka-kite. See you again,’ she returned behind her, flitting away into the bush across the road.
For a moment, there, before getting to the letterbox I wondered if I'd best ring my doctor, because surely there was something dreadfully amiss with my faculties. A talking butterfly! Thank goodness, that was only a fleeting thought! And off I went, finally reaching my letterbox destination smiling a deeply warm, knowing grin.
By the time I returned to my little house and was once again behind the safety of my red door, I was so intrigued about my new friend, I instanly began the research.
It wasn't long before I found out my friend was a Red Admiral, named Vanessa. She was a New Zealand native, but her species had been in decline since the 1900s. In some areas, she'd entirely dissapeared, (m.i.f) missing in flight.
How extremely lucky I was, then, to have come across this common, but endangered butterfly. It was simply an everyday miracle for her to be seen in the wild neighbourhoods of suburban society, not to mention all that talk!
What a joy and a pleasure this intersection has been. And what of tomorrow? I simply will go mad with waiting a whole 24 hours. Why, I'll be up all night with excitement!
Click Red Admiral to see a photo of this beautiful butterfly.