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Butterflies /Cabbages and Mohammed Ali

Updated: May 13, 2023

Whenever I hear the word butterfly, I recall my late father and his horror when he saw the cabbage butterfly , or large white, appear in the garden in late summer. He grew a lot of cabbage and the white butterflies loved to lay their eggs on the cabbage leaves and the ensuing caterpillars could devour lots of cabbage overnight.

I was appointed the main man to catch these eggs before they emerged , an inspector of cabbage leaves , a role I rather enjoyed. You had a choice of squashing them or throwing them into a bucket of water and I was fairly successful in protecting the cabbage. There was also an incentive in that I could sell some fresh cabbage every day and enjoyed the pecuniary reward for my labours and industry.

I was a great admirer of the butterfly but my father used tell me to forget about the butterfly because it was the caterpillar that did all the work . Like myself everyone admired the butterfly who got all the publicity and admiration while their offshoot commandos , the caterpillars, did all the destruction of the cabbage crop.

Apart from the large white we loved to see the Red Admiral appear and we ran around after them with our jars and lids to catch them and have a close-up view of them. They were never damaged and released quickly.

I also love the ‘Comma” butterflies which appears around gardens and woods and are particularly fond of areas where nettles flourish . I have seen quite a few in our garden this year despite our lack of nettles. They are very like the ‘Tortoise Shell’ butterfly and are very attractive with their light brown colouring.

Another great favourite and frequently seen in Ireland are the ‘Painted Lady’, the one that survives and lives around thistles. I note a lot of the “ Silver washed Fritillary “ around the garden and in the woods this year but pride of place must go to the “Peacock Butterfly’ for all its beautiful colours. We have noted quite a few of them in the woods this summer season. They seem to frequent an area near the river where nettles abound .They are truly aesthetically beautiful and add so much colour to the environment they frequent.

The butterfly starts as a tiny egg and then out comes a wriggly caterpillar ready to gorge on juicy cabbage leaves. Later the caterpillar makes a chrysalis and starts to change. In the season after the chrysalis the caterpillar has turned into a lovely butterfly after the cocooning and is ready to fly and start the whole metamorphism all over again.

We have heard a lot of butterfly talk lately with each of us being cocooned at various stages. We look forward to the day when we will all be able to burst out of our shells and fly our wings and live a normal free life again.

Mohammed Ali was one of the greatest boxers of all time. I remember him being asked about his style of boxing and his movement in the ring he said “ I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” What a lovely description of his boxing performance .You can mentally paint a picture of a butterfly floating around the sky on a nice sunny day and then picture Mohammed's ducking and diving and floating around the ring.

People use butterflies to describe nervousness . Before any tense situation a person might say “ I’ve got butterflies in my tummy ‘ or” I’ve got butterflies flying around in my tummy” .

Personally I could not imagine a peacock butterfly flying around my inners.

I leave the final bit of this ramble to that lovely Danish writer of children’s’ literature , Hans Christian Anderson in his book ‘The Butterfly”when the butterfly says “ Just living is not enough, one must have sunshine ,freedom and a little flower “.

Let us hope for more living in our lives with lots of sunshine and freedom again to traverse the country, visit neighbours, families and friends . and more freedom from lockdowns and viruses.

We can only hope that life will be better for us and we will all be able to go on holidays agai

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