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Sharing a Mother's Gift: My Butterfly Muse - Creative Photo Inspiration Prompts by Cynthia Staples
Cynthia Staples : Sharing a Mother's Gift: My Butterfly Muse

Photo © Cynthia Staples

Words & Images

Sharing a Mother's Gift: My Butterfly Muse

By Cynthia Staples

Butterflies are one of many muses in my life. In my home, they cover my walls, they hang from the ceiling and decorate antique glasses. Some are made of cotton, some are made of silk and then there's just a few made of paper. I do not actively seek them out but with the aid of family and friends my collection grows. And happily so.

I have no favorite item. I love them all. Each expression of the butterfly reminds me of my mother who first pointed out their beauty to me in her garden. The blues were her favorite because they were so rarely seen.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

So many years later, sighting a butterfly still causes me to pause and to reflect. Monarchs especially make me smile. They remind me of the time my brother and I disturbed a chrysalis and then used duct tape to stick it under our back porch. We both remember the monarch slipping wetly from its case, swaying gently until its wings dried and then it sailed off.

Photo © Cynthia Staples

Wherever I travel they catch my eye. In butterfly farms. In museums. In fields of flowers. I always described them to my mother over the phone or in letters. After she passed away for her I wrote The Blue Butterfly. In the story butterflies settle upon the brown braids of a little girl leaving blue sparkling dust behind. At the end, she faces a quandary: to bottle the butterflies in a mason jar to keep with her forever or to let them fly free in her grandmother's yard. After that story was published I have to admit I wanted to be done with butterflies.

But they were not done with me.

Seeing the sun glint on the golden wing of a swallowtail made me gasp. Learning of the thousands of miles traveled by monarchs and other species humbled me. Studying their wings, I learned that there were no boundaries with regard to colors and patterns. Through all the stages of their lives — from caterpillar to winged creature — butterflies connected earth and sky. How could I not be inspired to follow them with camera in hand?

Photo © Cynthia Staples

With Spring's approach, I have been looking through seed catalogs. I like to give flower packets to family members especially the children. I always seek out those annuals described as "perfect for attracting butterflies." This year I have decided to share my mother's gift of the butterfly muse. I will ask the children to take pictures of the flowers and the creatures who visit and to write the story of their butterfly adventures. I think somewhere, perhaps only in my imagination, the idea makes a little girl with brown braids quite happy. •

Next: In the Butterfly House »

© 2010 Cynthia Staples. All rights reserved.

Photo by Cynthia StaplesCynthia Staples is a highly creative writer and photographer living in the Boston area. Her words and images capture moments and memories and weave together inspiring stories for her readers. More »

Updated 4/17/14