As a child of the 70s (I turned 18 in 1975) perhaps I can be forgiven for taking my blog title from the Goldie Hawn movie of 1972, based on a play by Donald Gershe. But hey, butterflies are free. In some ways they epitomize freedom, as they flit and flitter from flower to flower in a seemingly random fashion. No one, and I mean no one tells a butterfly what to do.
However, you won’t find me jealous for the life of a butterfly. Depending on the species, the adult butterfly lives anywhere from a week to no more than a year. Given that, I think I’m just fine with where I sit in the circle of life. But as part of that I can certainly admire the beauty and apparent freedom of the many butterflies that grace our trails. Chief among them, in my opinion, given their size and color, are the Swallowtails (Papilionidae). They come in a number of varieties, and I’ve captured photos of at least two different kinds in recent days.
The Western Tiger Swallowtail (pictured above) is eye-catching with it’s yellow-and-black patterning. But there is also the black-and-yellow patterning called (naturally enough) the Black Swallowtail. Any way you look at it, we have a plethora of butterflies in a variety of colors and sizes (as well as moths and other interesting insects such as dragonflies) on our Sonoma Valley trails. Keep a sharp eye out and you may see something you haven’t seen before.
Meanwhile, butterflies may be free, but in the end we are even more free. We can observe these amazing creatures year after year, generation after generation. Perhaps we can’t flit from one flower to another on a whim, but we are blessed in many other ways.