10 September 2008

Friendly butterflies

Bunches of grapes at La Renaudière

Has a butterfly ever landed on you? It happened to me one warm day in Foster City, California. It must have been in 1999 or 2000. I was working for a software company in a 20-story building there called, if I remember right, Metro Center. It was your typical 1990s California office tower, in a "garden setting."

Old vines

I was arriving for work and walking from the parking garage to the building at 9:00 a.m. when I saw two women I worked with sitting on a low concrete wall outdoors, chatting. I stopped to say hello and ended up sitting down with them for a few minutes, enjoying the quiet of the morning and the warm sunshine before going to spend the day at my desk in a sterile cubicle.

Just yesterday, this butterfly followed me
Callie around on our walk for a while.

Then, as we talked, a yellow butterfly came and landed on the back of my hand. It must have stayed for 5 minutes, as I talked with Lis and Anna. We marveled at the fact that the butterfly was so bold and fearless. I couldn't help wondering why it landed on me. Was it enjoying our smells and the sound of our voices? It finally fluttered away. It was a memorable moment for me, however short.

It kept landing on the ground in front of me
along the path I was walking on.

Here's a man's story about a butterfly that "befriended" him in downtown Washington DC during summer 2007. It landed on his shoulder. He went into a photo shop and the butterfly stayed there while he had pictures taken. Then he went into a restaurant and the butterfly stayed on his shoulder the whole time he ate. Finally he hailed a taxi and he and the papillon rode home together. They saw each other daily for more than a month after that. Sounds like fantasy, doesn't it?

Read the whole article here.


  1. The painted lady in your photo and the red admiral in the linked story are from the same family, so are likely to exhibit similar behaviour. Butterflies will land on you sometimes if you are wearing a colour they are attracted to, or if they are after the moisture and salts in your sweat.

  2. I like to think that I was not sweating that morning, but who knows. I often wear plaid, but I have no memory of what I was wearing that day. What do you think of the article about the butterfly that stayed around for more than a month?

  3. What a charming story. I worked in that same building for a couple of years and was never lucky enough to attract the attention of a friendly butterfly. Did you ever call them flutterbys when you were a child?

    ...Susie (so as to be distinguished from the Susan who knows stuff)

  4. Beautiful post and photos. So inspiring...


    Once, on a summer day,
    A butterfly loved me.

    Now I'm old and gray.
    But once I was pretty.
    Some men befriended me.
    It's gone and far away.

    But not the brief instant,
    The magical moment,
    A butterfly chose me
    And rested beside me.

    C.P.G. (September 10, 2008)

  5. Claudia,
    Beautiful! Please grace us again in the future with your poetry.
    Ken, you have done some magnificent posts this week!
    To all: Night, night sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs or butterflies bite.

  6. Cheryl - It was my Swan Song.

    I'll be gone for at least 2 months. That's why I made an effort. Will miss Walt's and Ken's interesting posts. Will catch up when I return. All the best to all.

  7. I love your blog! A butterfly landed on me about a month ago. It was drowning in our pool and so I popped it on a nearby tree trunk stub. I made sure it dried off and was ok and it flew up and sat on my hand. It felt a bit odd at first (don't like bugs on me), but it was amazing.

  8. To be perfectly honest Ken, I think the story is a fantasy – the author may believe it to be true, but I am dubious about the reality.

  9. Susan, it sounded like a fantasy to me too, but strange things do happen. What do we really know about butterflies?

    Fact is, if the butterfly had been a fly or a mosquito, much less would have been made about the whole story.

    Still, butterflies are special. And maybe they have special role to play in nature.

  10. Gosh. I simply just felt a coup de coeur to respond!

    Although wonderful to me - living in the middle of the French countryside though lots of amazing things happen on a daily basis with nature - I didn't think it was that strange or incredible that I would be accused of making up the story.

    I'm sorry my comment generated only suspicion, but please rest assured that I do not deal in fantasies and my little story is true.

  11. Frances, Susan wasn't saying your experience was a fantasy. She was talking about the Washington Post article that inspired my original post. Your comment did not raise any question of suspicion. I really enjoyed reading it, and I'm sure others did too. Ken

  12. My story is also true. The moment was short but magical. And I felt chosen and loved, more than I had ever been. It gave me courage to face life, and the inevitable distressing hours that all of us encounter at times.

    I believe that butterflies have a spiritual empathy for humans.

  13. Thanks for clarifying that and apologies for the misunderstanding. Keep up the good blogs!


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