TALKING IMAGES 6 – DEATH AND BUTTERFLIES

 

 

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I attended a funeral yesterday.  Especially for those not accustomed to such things it was a highly emotionally charged event, and the bright sunshine could not entirely dispel the rather gaunt chapel nor, especially, the gusting northeasterly, which chilled us to the bone as we stood around the open grave.

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But something happened before we trudged out into that cold graveyard, something which made quite an impression on me, and I’d like to tell you about it early on this frosty morning.

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Because as we sat in the (mercifully) centrally heated chapel, waiting for the service to begin, I became aware of quite large shapes, fluttering up against the tall window at the head of the room.  My wife loves natural things but is not so much into identifying them, but even she said “Isn’t that a Peacock?”.  And that’s what they were, large and beautiful butterflies (see the image above, taken in our garden), that may have been wakened from their hibernation (which my butterfly book says mostly starts in early September) by the chapel’s heating, and by the bright light flooding in from outside.

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Anyway, one of these butterflies – perhaps half asleep or indeed itself at death’s door – fluttered down and sat on the carpet on the dais, where the service’s Celebrant was about to do her thing, and remained there like a great, dark, erect and slightly leaning triangle.  And it occurred to me – never one to really understand symbols in any depth – how striking and sad it would be if, while talking about one formerly living entity, the Celebrant were to inadvertently dispatch a second living entity on its journey to its Fluttering Maker by treading it unknowingly into the carpet.

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So, a terse “Don’t stand on the butterfly!” from me, a bewildered glance down from her – and to her vast credit, all through her deliberations, she trod delicately around that Little Living Thing as if it were a beautiful jewel – or, to put it another way, with my gaze calmly upon her, as if it were an anti-personnel mine.

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So, where am I getting to?  Well, for those of you who like to wallow in a symbol as you might in a hot tub, those little, fluttering mites might be seen as evidence of ‘Life Amidst Death’, or of the fluttering soul departing, etc, etc.  But, for me, who simply loves natural things in what may be a Pagan way, they simply buoyed up my spirits, on a day when anything uplifting was most surely to be treasured and cosseted.  (And, later in the day, I also got uplifted a lot more than a little by An Assault By Grand Daughters which, as always, was wonderful).

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And so, talking about Death And Butterflies, two things to mention.  George Weaver, a dear blogging friend of mine, is terminally ill, and facing the fact with a courage and resilience for which I have nothing but limitless admiration.  Her blog has long been something very special for me, long before her illness was diagnosed.  The photography is good, and George’s words have a wonderful vitality and freshness that I have not experienced elsewhere – she interacts with living things on a wonderfully intimate and heartfelt basis.  I recommend her blog to you.

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And second I put out a post on Peacock butterflies sometime back – it can be found here, and it contains further images, and also the details of a very beautiful and very informative butterfly book – which is surely one of the five most treasured books I own.

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With particular reference to yesterday, but also in a general sense, let’s hear it for butterflies!  Like little children, they raise my spirits whenever I encounter them.

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

30 Responses to TALKING IMAGES 6 – DEATH AND BUTTERFLIES

  1. Robert says:

    Thank you, Adrian, I found your post thought provoking. We are fortunate that there are opportunities that serve as a catalyst for being cheered up.

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    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      That’s good to hear, Robert, thank you. Yes, there are opportunities, and those of us who are involved with living things and the natural world have perhaps more of these opportunities than many in this respect. Adrian

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sallyann says:

    I saw a pretty butterfly,
    I caught it by its toes,
    I put it in my handkerchief…
    And then…

    I think I’ve told you this little rhyme before, I couldn’t decide if it was quite right as a comment here.
    But I thought, I’ve recited this little poem so many times, and every time I do, I smile way before I reach the last line so then I thought I don’t really need to worry if the last line is suitable or not because you’ll remember it from last time, and be smiling even without it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Ah, no, well, you see, it must have been some other Portly Person you mentioned it to, because t’weren’t I, Missy! Are you in the habit of accosting PPs on the street and regaling them with dotty ditties??? Well, you know, just asking …..

      But the really worrying and indeed horrific thing is that I think I can guess the outcome … bit like Ghostbusters … its a world of slime! …. or is it snot that at all??? … that’s the thing about you … the uncertainty … the never knowing quite what will transpire …. tell me, does your Hubby have any sort of … medal … for beyond the .. well you know .. call of duty … ??? …. 😉 …

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have all these thoughts rolling around in my head. I’ll just say it was no accident for sure. I hope it put a smile on E’s face.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello Adrian, I felt slightly strange clicking ‘like’, but it is a wonderfully tender post. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  5. A church is a perfect place for peacocks and red admirals to hibernate! Have you looked up some of the mythology surrounding butterflies? It’s a passion of mine alongside photographing the butterflies themselves. There’s much belief across the world that butterflies are the embodiment of a persons soul. In Mexico where the Monarchs gather to overwinter, they are welcomed to the town as the returning souls of the ancestors. Local people decorate the cemeteries and light candles to guide them home. George will be a spectacular butterfly! Her love of the natural world is what drew me to her blog and I love seeing her “zoo” 🙂 She has a wonderful and refreshing attitude to life and death. It’s an honour to know her!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hello, Sarah – no, I know nothing of butterfly mythology but I’m not surprised about the embodiment of souls beliefs – very apt! And the thought of George as a butterfly, that would never have occurred to me – but you’re spot on! >>> doubtless she’ll fly upside down, in figures of eight, or be looping the loop! Yes, refreshing is what she is – and I certainly agree with you re the honour of knowing her. Thank you for this wonderful comment. Adrian 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderful post and a wonderful send off, so to speak. A magical butterfly, and no coincidence it was there…

    Like

  7. Meanderer says:

    Beautiful post, Adrian. How wonderful that you spotted the butterfly where it landed, and warned the celebrant. You and your wife were tuned in and aware of Nature at that sensitive and emotional time. Seeing such things can give us a lift and hope when we need it.

    Like

  8. paula graham says:

    Sure , they lift the spirit..but waking up in the winter is possibly not a good thing to do if you are a butterfly…Well done, your wife..she sounds a spirited woman.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      No, I fear that those three fluttering around the chapel will not last long if they don’t settle down to sleep once more. And spirited is a good word – and it really shows at this hard time. A

      Like

  9. Katalina4 says:

    Lovely – the symbol of spirit…

    Like

  10. fleeting beauty this thing called life!

    Like

  11. Sue Vincent says:

    Lovely post, Adrian… and you are right, George’s blogs are well worth reading.
    I have butterflies hibernating in my bedroom every year and there is something very beautiful about providing, even inadvertenly, a haven for these delicate creatures.
    Of course, the symbolism doesn’t go unmissed…

    Like

  12. sheldonk2014 says:

    I love the title, not to mention the shot. If am allow to say that I am glad you found an image to bring some life back into an already heavy experience.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Hi again Sheldon! Titles are important to me. They can make people curious to see an image, and they can provide context for an image when it is being viewed. I had originally thought of calling this post “Fluttering at Death’s Door”, but then “Death and Butterflies” seemed more basic, alluring and mysterious.

      Thank you, yes, well, just by luck I already have photos of Peacock butterflies from here in Bristol – I like to use my own photos where I can. Thank you again. Adrian

      Like

  13. LensScaper says:

    Isn’t there a phrase along the lines of: ‘in the midst of death there is life’? That is a very poignant story, well told, Adrian. And I was so sorry to hear about George. I haven’t heard from her for some time now and nor have any posts popped up in the Reader. I must get back to her – she has a wonderful sense of humour.

    Like

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, that’s right, “in the midst of death …” – it makes me think of a photo by Tom Stoddart, somewhere in Africa I think, where on one side of a room an aged woman is on the brink of death, while on the other side of the room two women are helping a third give birth. I’m glad the story got to you – I woke up this morning, just wanting to write about it.

      Yes, do get back to George. As far as I know she is refusing medication and so far feels well – and is still very much with her irrepressible humour. Its strange, but I’ve noticed that some posts, from various bloggers, don’t appear in the Reader, tho they more often appear in the email notifications. A

      Like

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