The fly in the butter

If this were a show and tell in school, I’d start with the sentence “a butterfly is an insect with two pairs of colored wings… ” However, when I listen to the word butterfly I usually imagine a simple and common fly landing softly in the butter of my breakfast table… Who was the one who ever thought of calling such an insect a ‘butterfly’? Let’s take a look at other languages, a butterfly is a ‘Schmetterling’ in German, and the verb ‘schmettern’ means to dash, to batter, that is, to violently smash something…. Such a name for such a light and insecure insect? Please, come on, who called it that way? I imagine it was maybe someone with a magnifying glass looking at the huge eyes and the hairy body of a butterfly… Let’s move to the Latin based languages, butterfly in French: papillon… It sounds like a very big paper something, ‘papier’ is paper… so… Do you get the image? A little bit better than German, but still hard. And Italian? The word sounds at least friendlier and playful, ‘farfalla’ … Better, and in Portuguese, it’s ‘borboleta’ a word that I associate with ‘bubbles’ and something light and also playful. My favorite though is the Spanish word: Mariposa. It’s like a tiny Mary posing or landing somewhere… A nicer and softer image in our heads, isn’t it?




This time I started philosophing on this special insect because during the last cold days I carried in some wood for the chimeney and among the logs I found a delicate blue and brown butterfly. What surprised me was the fragility between the coarse wood and that it was still alive. So I took it delicately from a wing and, although it didn’t flatter (schmetter 😉 ) widely, it started moving softly. But, what could I do with it in a cold and grey day? I opened the door and left it posing on the balcony. This left me a little bit sad because I knew that in spite of having resisted all along hidden somewhere the butterfly wouldn’t make it long. So what was all that struggling and resisting for?
The next thought I had, was about the cocoon… Where had it been all winter long? Where had it been hiding, sleeping, charging energy? At that point I saw the awakening as a very cruel thing, you are warm and safe in a cocoon and wake up only to encounter difficulties. But maybe having the opportunity to see the world, especially in spring, may have been worth it.

Enjoy the sunny days that are to come!


12 thoughts on “The fly in the butter

  1. Siendo de país caliente (Mexico Lindo…) tiendo a relacionar a las mariposas con la primavera, el clima cálido y seco. Me quedé pensando en la breve existencia de esos “papalotitos” (little kites) vivos e independientes, volando de flor en flor… Pequeña explosión de color en un fondo verde. ¿Y cuando llueve…? Deben estar al cobijo de algún arbol que se va llenando de hojas nuevas, esperando poder volver ¡a volar!

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    • En un clima inclemente me las imagina con sus patitas agarrotadas de frío deteniéndose con fuerza en la rama para que no se las lleve el ventarrón ni se ahoguen en la lluvia… Realmente son muy luchadoras!


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