Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Brief beauty

A to Z challenge: Day two

B is for Brief beauty

Blue Morpho butterflies live only for 115 days and only a few weeks as full butterflies. They are believed to be a healing butterfly.

The back of its wings are covered with layers of microscopic scales that reflect the light back as an iridescent blue. When the sunlight hits their open wings, they shimmer.

When the Morpho shuts its wing, this glorious colour disappears behind muted shades of camouflage brown dotted with eyespots. This change from bright blue to dull brown makes the Morpho seem to suddenly disappear and then appear again.

Spring in the Yucatan arrives with a massive hatching of the Blue Morpho. For one week in April, it rains heavily and temperatures rise -- a taste of the crushing heat to come. During that week, the Morpho butterflies would emerge and for a few days, our skies sparkle with their shades of blue.

It had been a busy winter season for me and I hadn't even notice spring arriving.  I had a last minute assignment with my magazine to go visit the Maya ruins at Coba. I decided to bring my daughter even though it meant listening to her complaints as we drove along the rutted road from Tulum to Coba. We had a late start so where on still on that terrible road at noon. The air conditioning was broken so we left the windows open.

Up ahead there was a cloud off to side of the road that pulsed dark like the blinking of an eye. I inched along the road and as we got closer we could see streaks of violet and blue in the cloud.

 “Mom. I think those are butterflies,” called out my daughter.

I stopped driving as the cloud came closer. There was the sound of fluttering wings.

“Open the doors, now,” I said.

We had just enough time to open them as the rabble flew into car. We were covered in a curtain of blue and could feel the delicate from their wings and a delicate touch.  Just as quickly, it was over. The rabble was across the road to continue their flight through the jungle.

We gently removed the ones lost inside the car or trapped by the engine grill. Inside and out, our windows were covered with a fine dust. When the last butterfly had floated off, my daughter smiled at me, then drew a happy face on the window. I started the car and we continued on our journey.