Around noon today, — just as Paris’ iconic Notre-Dame cathedral started burning — a black swallowtail butterfly cautiously flew into our garden.
Finally a lepidoptera that’s other than a Monarch!
It spent quite a bit of time sucking nectar out of the ixora bush that’s by our front door.
I did some research, and found out that the Papilio polyxenes caterpillar enjoys parsley.
Fortuitously, I have an Italian variety growing in our enclosed porch. It wasn’t long before I placed this underwhelming herb in a hanging basket and hooked that on a branch of our formerly unsteady hibiscus shrub — just out of reach of the bunnies that occasionally gambol on our property.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might be asking yourself, right about now, “what’s up with this butterfly jive?”
Well, it helps — along with the yoga classes I took up last week, or making improvements to the house, or going on long bike rides — to suitably pass the time between now and early September, when we plan to leave for Portugal.
I’m biding my time; playing the waiting game, longing for my final escape.
In the meantime, my goal is to distance myself emotionally in the temporal space that remains here in Florida from global unpleasantness in all its forms and manifestations, and prudently choose not to react to local irritations from all the usual suspects — including my ever-present, loud, vulgar, right-wing Methuselah neighbors and their obscenely vile White House hero — aptly named after a ridiculous cartoon duck — a malevolent specimen of humanity, if ever there was one.
I’m surprised Donny didn’t tweet that he personally witnessed French Muslims crying out ‘Allahu Akbar’ while dancing a dabka on the embankments of the Seine, as Notre-Dame toppled in flames, though I would not put it past him to suggest to Macaroni in the weeks ahead that a Trump-branded hotel be built in its place.
No one died in the big Paris fire today, and apparently most of Notre-Dame’s irreplaceable religious artifacts were salvaged, They will eventually restore this exquisite Catholic architectural monument, but it may take years — as was the case with the Cathedral of St John the Divine in Harlem, which also caught fire decades ago when my wife and I lived on the UWS, although naturally we had nothing to do with that tragedy either.
Coincidentally enough, St John’s had another fire two days ago, but I shall leave Internet conspiracy mongering to the trolls with no lives and the professional hucksters who endlessely revel for the lulz or profit or political power in this sort of crap.
If I ever were that sort of person, I might gloatingly suggest that it was payback for screwing up my hoped-for lengthy Brexit delay, thus forcing me to deal with this far-too-soon Halloween deadline.
Is it too much to hope that the swallowtail — which I understand is quite territorial as a species — returns tomorrow?
En attendant, I so can’t wait to get out, and wish that I, too, had wings capable of transporting me enormous distances, far far away from the land of shameless rubes.
At least that is how I see them.
Or how I have been conditioned to do so.
The butterfly does not fly out of hate.
He flies toward his own monomythic death, knowing he has been transformed into beauty, yet fearing not its end.
I intend to live for many years yet.
But in doing so, I wish to live what remains with élan, free of the self-hate and resentment of others that consumed me for so long.
In Portugal, the sun sets to the West — El Gharb in Arabic, the place of eternity to the Ancient Egyptians.
I am both Arab and Egyptian.
I wish now to understand what my breath feels like, to walk along a part of the Atlantic that is not polluted by runoff, as it is here in Florida, to feel the strength in my body return as I climb the hills of the Minho with the dog that is waiting for me to arrive so that it can protect and love my wife and I in our old age.
I know there is a better way of life, and I know it is not here, where I am now.
It is time, time to leave all that has been toxic to me all my life, time to leave all this far behind, and go where I can be myself and face death, whenever it may come, unafraid and satisfied that I am finally living my life, even if having waited to do so so very late in life, unafraid, but living it at last to the fullest, before letting go for the journey that awaits me on the other side of the river of forgetfulness.