Each spring, visitors flock to the Krohn Conservatory for their annual butterfly show. It’s a feast for the senses: brilliant colored wings to see, fragrant flowers to smell, giggling children to hear, and if you’re lucky, a touch as soft as a kiss when a butterfly lands on you.
To enter the exhibit, the boys and I step through a door and stop. We wait while the volunteer closes the door and search the area for loose butterflies. She instructs us NOT TO TOUCH THE BUTTERFLIES then passes out pale paper flower cutouts. We each stand with our hand out palms up waiting our own.
“Sorry, we don’t have enough,” she says. I assure her that it’s OK and that we can share. “Hold the flower and the butterfly will come to you,” she says.
She opens a second door and we enter.
Hundreds of butterflies in vibrant blues, oranges and greens flit past us in the enclosed space. Nearly as many visitors hold their flowers hoping a butterfly will land.
“We need to be still,” I remind the boys. “Still like a statue. Frozen like a popsicle.” F. rolls his eyes and hides his paper flower between the petals of a real bloom.
We wait. No butterflies. We move to a new spot and wait. No butterflies. To be fair, we aren’t frozen but more melting. The heat inside the exhibit is stifling.
On the way out, we pass through the two-door system. The volunteer makes us shake our bags twice and check our neighbor for butterflies. There’s a basket sitting on a chair by the closed door.
“Should we drop these in here?”
“If you want,” she says. “Or you can take them home.” Why does free make something more special? (Slap a "50 percent off" on a sweater, even one I wouldn't normally like, and it suddenly becomes much more appealing.)
Drop. Drop. Drop. Each of the boys’ flowers land in the basket. We decide it’s nicer to let someone else attempt to catch a butterfly. Maybe they’ll be a statue.