I was working from home today, with laptop squeezed on the kitchen table, as close to the open back door as possible, whilst trying to resist the lure of greening garden, packets of seeds and warming soil.
Small birds were dashing back and forth from fence and tree and feeder, whist a blackbird sang from my neighbours weeping pear tree, filling the garden with beautiful melodies.
I was just hitting save on my document with the aim of taking a short tea break when an excited voice from the garden called me outside. Mum had spotted an unexpected moment unfolding.
Against the fence of our pocket-sized residential garden, is a climbing rose and clinging tightly to resist the breeze, on the pruned end of a stem of this rose was a beautiful butterfly. An inch below, a papery case glued to the side of the stem was all that remained of the pupa in which the miracle of metamorphosis took place throughout the winter months, unnoticed beneath our noses as we passed by intent on busy lives.
The butterfly’s wings were still completing their unfurling; white and laced with mottled green beneath, and when opened to greet the warming sunshine, purer white and tipped with brightest orange; a male orange tip.
I recently heard the orange tip butterfly described as 'Spring's happiest butterfly' which I think wonderfully captures the moment of brightest joy and colour when a fluttering vision materialises from a beam of sunlight to dash past on hurried wings and disappear into the hedgerow's distant reaches.
This individual, so fresh and new to the world, gazed back unblinkingly at me through my camera lens. Suddenly an experimental flick of the wings launched the butterfly off his rose-stem perch for a moment, catching the wind before he found a moments rest and sanctuary on the cuff of my jumper-sleeve. He waited a few precious, magical moments there, gaining courage from the spring sunshine, before taking to the wing again in first solo flight, floppy at first but gaining strength.
Purple flowers across the garden must have shone like a beacon as soon his tiny feet found purchase in the petals and, bathed in sunshine, he fed greedily on sweet energy-rich golden nectar.
The last I saw of the orange tip was an orange and white flicker of wings, disappearing over the garden fence and away into the April sky.
I saw an orange tip later that day, beyond the house and along the street; I wonder if it was the same male that brought a moment of magic to my tea break, and a smile to my day.