Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Swimming and Seeing the Butterflies

What better way to end a swim practice than to stop by the butterfly garden on the way home. Swimming was the kind of routine thing I expected today. A total of 4,300 meters, a fairly easy pace, not really getting the heart rate going. I think I was a little tired today, and I was also concerned about my shoulder, maybe more of an imagined concern than a real one, but nevertheless I tried not to do anything silly. The 100m race at the end was a bit flat, too, around 1m 32s, and I just held off one of the two other guys for second place.

So as I biked past the Golden Lion Lake to go to the open-air market on my way home, I stopped by the butterfly garden. This is very well tended and few people go there, except perhaps at weekends. Maybe people don't think a lot about butterflies. Certainly, as a child I would see a few in the fairly large garden behind our home. However, Taiwan has close to 400 different species, some 40 of which are only found on this island. Reports say the butterfly population is declining and many varieties are threatened with extinction. This is all in the name of progress, technological progress, as people become more engrossed in increasingly sophisticated manufactured gadgetry. If you want to see beauty, though, it is hard to find something which compares with a butterfly.

Watching butteflies helps me relax, and helps me release some of the stresses I face every day. The butterflies always seem to be very busy. For them life is short, but besides helping pollinate flowers and plants, they seem to enjoy flying about together in groups as well as alone. They have compound eyes, often with as many as 6,000 lenses. They don't grow in size. When they emerge from the chrysalis, they are as large as they will get. Creating butterfly gardens like the one that I can visit near my home is one way of helping to ensure that they remain with mankind for many more generations.

These pictures and the movie are all from the butterfly garden.

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