As I was waiting for my family to meet me at the park, I watched eight busloads of children unload and their excited voices filled the long glass entryway. It was a prelude to the fun I'd have watching our three little ones in conservatory react to the butterflies flying all over the place or landing near-by to drink flower nectar, pollen, fruit or tree sap. The butterflies are also attracted to sodium which is why, at exhibits, they’ll often land on sweaty people (or those wearing bright colors). Sodium is one of the minerals they need to reproduce. I wasn’t sweaty but I had on a magenta sweater and a butterfly landed on my chest and lots of them would get within a foot away before abruptly changing their flight pattern when they figured out I wasn't a flower.
But I don't love the Common Morphos enough to buy one of the dead ones in the gift shop that are preserved and framed between two pieces of glass for $45.00. Preserved butterflies remind me of the first psychological thriller I ever saw, a 1965 movie called The Collector. It was about a sicko who kidnapped and imprisoned a young art student and the walls in the cellar where he kept her were lined with specimen boxes with row after row of preserved butterflies. But I digress. Back to what I was going to say about what happens to the butterflies in conservatory exhibits when they die and I wish I didn’t know this. Their little bodies have to be treated like hazardous waste. The butterflies come from all over the world and could introduce diseases into our ecosystem. It’s a shame that something so beautiful that gives so much pleasure to people of all ages should end up so unceremoniously. We romantics-by-nature like to think that a life lived well is remembered and honored with dignity.