Count your butterflies: A year on from the earthquake by Joyce Elwood-Smith
By Christchurch Grandparent and home owner Joyce Elwood-Smith
I have been thinking how we must collect and store all the beautiful moments and precious times we have so we can draw on them when needed, for when the dark gloomy days hang around too long.
In a Canterbury “norwester” the cloud stretches across the sky taut as a roller blind hitched into a neat arch so we get a peek at the ice cream tipped Southern Alps. I used to imagine tugging on an invisible cord so the clouds would ping up and disappear and the whole sky would flood with light. However as the sun goes down behind the mountains the dark clouds are illuminated and the most brilliant sunsets created.
I was delighted to read about the gift of Monarch butterflies to Christchurch. Monarchs often visited my garden and there was a tree along the banks of the Heathcote where they gathered and appeared to hibernate but a winter snowfall was too much for them.I saw a film at an IMAX theatre in France about flying in a micro light with the Monarchs, following the migration of millions of these butterflies. It was as though we were indeed flying above and amongst them it was truly amazing.
This brings me to the beautiful summery day yesterday the sky was that intense blue that appears to go on into infinity. I was outside when I saw a butterfly. It wasn’t a monarch but it looked as though it had been freshly touched up with a paint brush recently dipped into bright cadmium yellow and then a shimmering rust red. It fluttered happily from bush to flower then to the capsicum and basil growing in a tub where young Ben spotted it and yes he wanted to capture it put it in a jar then later ‘when it’s dead’ (his words) pin the wings.
I couldn’t contain my disappointment that he would contemplate doing such a thing so we had a long talk. I explained to him how happy this butterfly was on its one glorious day of freedom, it may survive to enjoy another and another but such a fragile creature with so many hazards all around there was no assurance. We watched it spiral upwards on the breeze, circle, come back and check out the flowers again, then with a joyous fluttering soar high into the sky, light radiating through its bright translucent wings.
“We have only this moment sparkling like a star in our hand melting like a snowflake.” I wish I could say I had written this quotation myself, a reminder about each inexorable moment we have to spend however it must be attributed to the famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) Sir Francis Bacon 1561 -1626.
There are precious and fragile moments in our life that we must treasure and moments of pure joy. We only live moment to moment and how we see that moment and use it is entirely up to us. Although we cannot control every moment of our life it is how we view that moment and what we do with the memory of it that counts.
It will be a year On Feb 22nd since the devastating earthquake hit Christchurch. Media will be dwelling on this and there will be a memorial service in Hagley Park. For some of the people of Christchurch it will be healing and restorative for most it will be just another sad reminder of the moment that changed their lives forever and the struggle since to keep a balance in their lives since.
It has been tough and tiring. I think I can speak for a lot of fellow Christchurch citizens and say that we are tired of being referred to as resilient. We just want to have our lives back, the life we had before the quakes. We want our houses fixed, our streets mended, we know our lovely heritage buildings are gone for ever and new fancy buildings may take their place but that doesn’t make us feel better. People are still strong but without faith and hope, despair can set in. I pray with all my heart for faith and hope for our city.