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PHOENIX RISING

By fairstarphotography on October 21, 2011

What difference can one person make in this world?
I have a pool in my backyard.   As a habit, whenever I go outside I always glance at the pool, since I’ve frequently had to rescue numerous critters from its waters.   I can’t stand the thought of a living creature drowning in my pool.
So yesterday I went into my backyard, and glanced at the pool, hoping to see nothing more unusual than the leaves that drop from my trees.   At first glance, all looked well.  But then I saw something else, something different, something that definitely didn’t belong there.  It resembled a leaf, but intuitatively I knew that it wasn’t a leaf.
It was a large butterfly.  She was floating on her side, lifeless and still, in the center of my pool.  I was sad since I realized that I was too late to save her.  Determined to rescue her body, I got my pool skimmer net and dipped it below her body, gently lifting her out of the water.  As I raised the net out of the water and toward me, I was stunned to see her pop upright inside the net!
I was jubilant!  She hadn’t died in the water.  She had most likely struggled to get out, and when she realized that she couldn’t, she must have given up all hope,  laid back in the water,  and waited to die.
I carefully examined her while she was in the pool net.  She was very injured.  One of her upper wings was gone completely, and the other upper wing only had the top edge remaining.  I put the net in the sun, and she slowly fanned her remaining wings.  I’m sure she hoped that once her wings were dry she could just fly away to safety.  Unfortunately her damaged wings would never be able to do that again.  She tried once to fly, and dropped deeper into the net.  I think she must have given up hope once again.  She didn’t try to fly after that.  She merely stood there, gripping the net, motionless.
I sprung into action.  I ran into the garage and found a pet carrier.  I thought it might make an adequate temporary shelter for her.  I gathered leaves, twigs and branches and placed them inside.  When I was satisfied that any injured butterfly would find it serviceable, I gently grasped her by her remaining wings, loosened her grip on the pool net, and placed her inside her new home.  I put the carrier in the sun.  She would occasionally fan her wings to try to dry them.
Then I made sugar water, soaked sponges in it, and placed them inside her carrier.  The sun was falling so I had to make a decision.  Should I leave her outside?  Our weather had suddenly gotten very cold at night.  I decided any butterfly as brave and resilient as she was proving to be deserved the very best chance at life that I could give her!
So we came inside!  I transferred her to a snug shoebox, along with her leaves, twigs and food.  I thought she would stay warmer in a smaller environment.  I wondered if she would last through the night.
This morning I opened her shoe box to find her in the same spot where I had placed her the night before.  I worried that she might have died.  I gently touched her antenna, and they moved!  She was still with me!  But I knew she needed better accommodations and food.  I brought her upstairs to a bedroom that was flooded with morning light.  I created a butterfly habitat worthy of her and hoped she would  begin to move around, exploring her new home.  I left her alone for an hour and came back to check on her.  She had moved!  It was time for breakfast.  I picked up a Q-tip, soaked it in sugar water and touched it to her proboscis.  It twitched softly.  I touched it again.  I watched with a growing sense of wonder and excitement as her coiled proboscis uncoiled and hungrily sucked down the food!  It darted all around, seeking out more of her breakfast.  Again and again I soaked the Q-tip in sugar water to feed her, marveling at her hunger and my ingenuity.  It was amazing to watch her tiny proboscis slurping up puddles of sugar water until they disappeared, and then probe the air, waiting for me to give her more puddles to drink dry.
She drank a lot.  Finally, her hunger satisfied, she turned her head and stared at me, and then she gingerly walked on her remaining, unstable legs to the large, sturdy branches I had placed near her box for her to climb.  With grace and certainty, she climbed right up to the top, and began to lazily clean herself.   I named her Phoenix.
What difference can one person make in this world?  One person can save the life of a damaged and despairing butterfly.  Giving her renewed life, and hope and a safe and serene place to call home until the end of her days.
To see the entire photograph, please click on each one.

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