01. August 2006 · Comments Off on In the Season of Butterflies · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, Pajama Game

Funny old world, that… what with everything else going on in the world, this part of south Texas is being overrun with… butterflies, more of them than I have ever seen in any other year. First it was swarms of small, drab brownish and dark orange things, with wings about the size of a man’s thumbnail. They are called snout-tailed something or others, or so my neighbor Judy told me; not the least bit spectacular, but they are everywhere in perfect swarms. In the evenings, they cover certain trees and shrubs to the point where they make the tree look as if it is entirely covered in small, trembling leaves, and gather around shallow puddles where anyone has just watered. The dogs and I have run thru a perfect whirlwind of them during the morning for the last few weeks, but this last weekend we noticed more than the little drab things.

We walked by a bed of gerbera daisies in a neighbor’s front yard on Sunday, on our way to get the newspaper, and a perfect storm of sulfur-yellow and creamy white butterflies rose up from it. These new interlopers are several times the size of the snout-tailed something butterflies, and much more discriminating. They very much favor the flowering bushes like the gerberas, and the rosemary bushes in the front of my house, which are now covered in spikes of tiny blue flowers and fairs of butterflies. The firebush next door is orbited by a constant mob of yellow, like an animated flock of postit notes. At the DIY home warehouse store on Sunday, we spotted a gold and brown Monarch with wings a big as my hands, lazily orbiting over a table of flowering annuals, along with all the smaller brown, yellow and white sorts.

We have never seen so many, in the time we have lived here, and have no idea why: it’s been hot, but not as hot as some years, not as rainy as others, there are just about as many flowering plants in bloom this year as others… it is a mystery.

Another mystery: one of my neighbors, several blocks up the road have suddenly, and horrifically contracted the urge to decorate their garden with a huge variety of healthy flowering plants and shrubs in an array of containers which have absolutely nothing in common, aesthetically speaking. It is almost as if they hit every nursery and DIY store in town, impulsively buying hand over fist every plant and pot that caught their eye, without consideration of all the stuff they had bought previously. About the only thing to hold plants that they haven’t bought so far is that nadir of low-rent taste, the automobile tire turned inside out, laid on the side, and the top edge cut into zig-zag shapes and gaudily painted. No, the assortment of pots would be quite striking of itself, but the statuary puts it painfully over the top.

Not gnomes, but all those elaborate , sentimental cast-plaster, or concrete statues of Victorian children, sitting on benches, or under umbrellas, or playing with the bunnies and duckies… dozens of them, and Blondie swears there are more of them, mysteriously appearing every day, as if they were replicating themselves in some revolting and not-to-be-closely-considered-by-the-squeamish fashion, partaking in mysterious rituals performed during the darkest hours of the night…. No, the thought of all those statues of creepy children coming alive at night, and throwing off their pinafores and trousers and tormenting the bunnies and ducks with… no, no, no. I’ll bet that when they smile, though, they have needle-sharp teeth, like the little gnomes on that planet in “Galaxy Quest”. During the day, the serried ranks of statuary make it look like a monumental graveyard for hobbits. And that’s the front yard, we don’t like to think of what might already be in the backyard, because at some point, the statuary will overflow their yard entirely, and come marching down the road, and then where will we be?

On, the other hand, the horrible marching army of statues will have to come by the house with the tree full of wind chimes, the place where they have ripped out the lawn, and covered it all pavers, and raised beds full of native flowering shrubs, whirligigs, painted sheet- metal flowers and crystals on metal poles…all very pleasant on a mild day, but what it must be like during a wind-storm, I shudder to imagine. Probably no one can hear themselves think, for the clamor of wind chimes, let alone call City Code Compliance to complain:
“Hello (bonnn-ggg! Bo-nnnn-g!) Code (Bonnnnnnggggg!) Compliance, how may we (BOOOONNNNNNGGG!) help you? (BONNNNNNNNGGGG!)…. I’m so sorry, ma’am, (BOOOONNNNNNGGG!) but I can’t hear you (BBBBBOOOOONNNNNG!) over the wind chimes!” (BBBBBBOOOOOOOONNNNNNNGGGGGGG!)

I love the look of the wind-chime place, but personally, I’m happy to be living a good distance away. I think it would drive my dogs and cats into nervous breakdowns. I blame global warming. Or global cooling. Or climate change, or Al Gore, or somebody. Maybe even Martha Stewart, whom I am happy to blame for anything.

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