Connected We Be
by Donna Day © 2020

Was I especially peaceful that day, more tuned in, smelling just right? What elements joined to create this experience?

I was talking on the phone with Ernie and had come near the end of my daily neighborhood walk. My pace was slowing as I savored the shade and relative coolness of the beautiful overhanging Live oak trees. A flash of yellow captured my attention and our relationship began.

The yellow flash revealed itself to be a Giant Swallowtail butterfly flying near me. I stopped to observe and explained to my patient, fellow nature-nut and sweetheart Ernie that this magnificent, huge yellow and black butterfly was now flying around me. Speechless, I watched him circle me again and again; now counting, I could verify at least 12 flights circumnavigating my body. Alternately whispering to Ernie about the unfolding joy and wordlessly transmitting to my new friend how gorgeous he was, time evaporated in the immediacy of our growing relationship augmented by Ernie’s delight in the long-distance play-by-play. I stood still, moving only enough to observe my flying friend’s location and actions.

Suddenly satisfied that I was “okay,” he landed on the ground within a foot of my left leg and began a behavior I have seen and read about called puddling. He finished with the first area and then helicoptered a few inches over to another mucky spot still within a foot of my body. After several sips there, he moved to a 3rd puddling area still within a foot of me.

Relationships are powerful and rely on profound trust. My winged-friend once again circled my body several times, not quite as many this time. Spell-bound I told Ernie of my theory that he was “reading” the energy field surrounding my body to determine whether or not more puddling would be safe; such behavior would be risky if predators were around … I have subsequently learned from another nature aficionada she believes butterflies come to her outstretched hand when her hand is hot and sweaty in hopes of getting nutrition from her sweat. Whatever this butterfly’s motives or processes, he chose to begin another round of puddling! The miracle continued before my grateful eyes as my friend revisited the same three puddles to drink in more of the life-sustaining nutrients.

Ernie continued to listen and enjoy and then laugh with me at the next almost unbelievable event. Given that it was past my lunch time and I was hot from the Florida midday summer sun, I began to say “goodbye” to my little buddy and walk on in rapture and joy. However, he was not ready for our time together to end, or so it seemed as he began flying beside me. I suspect what Ernie heard on the phone was something like, “Oh my God! Oh my… Oh…” Fortunately, he knows my voice and expressions well so knew I was extraordinarily happy and waited, still patiently for the explanation. Once shared, we were both in awe. The Giant Swallowtail and I said goodbye as I came to the end of the street. He had “walked” with me for about 20 feet.

One blessed connection brings back others and so I began telling Ernie of the time at Oscar Scherer State Park I was waiting for my friend to complete her phone call. We had been walking together on a sandy path when she received a call and wandered off the path some to talk. I stayed on the path and sauntered along looking at the sandhill plants when a gopher tortoise appeared and we chatted for a bit. I was enchanted by his presence and he seemed curious and happy to hang out with me. I mentally told him how beautiful he was and probably spoke the words aloud as well. After a sweet “chat,” I felt to move along the path and was intrigued when my new four-footed friend began walking beside me! As I poured out this similar tale to Ernie, we laughed… this new friend ended up “walking” with me at least 40 feet. In both instances, no one else was there to observe, but I could share my experience as I am doing now. Experiencing, celebrating the glories of nature and our connections with individuals of other species is absolute joy! I am left with a profound and vital awareness of oneness with all that is.


*Butterflies, often the males, augment their diets by sipping moisture containing salts and minerals from damp, muddy places. These crucial nutrients are passed along to the females during mating and are delivered via sperm.