Heshey Park & Gardens, in Hershey, PA. has lots of awesome attractions--world class roller coasters, a wicked water park, the Chocolate Museum, Zoo America, endless food possibilities, and music and entertainment venues, etc.
But these days, when my husband and I head to Hershey, we climb the hill overlooking the Park and go straight to the Hershey Gardens and Arboretum. Here, standing amongst dozens of varieties of roses, some planted by Hershey himself, we can watch the roller coaster cars zip up and down impossible tracks, as the screams of thrill seekers floats up the hill.
We bend to stick our noses into yet another brilliant rose, and smile at one another, glad to be exactly where we are.
Saturday we had the Gardens almost entirely to ourselves. It was the first cool morning of mid august, such a welcome change from the heat and humidity, and we wanted to check out the Butterfly House.
We go about once a year to visit the Butterfly House, but somehow we had missed a season or two. Never wait that long to see over 300 butterflies in one place if you can help it!
Stepping into the beautiful little outdoor house made of tight mesh, alive with butterflies, you feel as if you've found the antidote to the madness of modern life.
We were told by one of "Flight Attendants" that we might see 2 new varieties; something called a Malachite, and another called a Ghost Butterfly. I think we probably saw them both. This is a Malachite, below. And I think the Ghost Butterfly is above, on the lantern.
But we both agreed we had never seen so many butterflies in the House! We had to walk slowly, mindfully, because butterflies rested everywhere--covering the walkway, on our shoulders and head, on our outstretched hands. It really is a place where the slow, unhurried meander saves lives--maybe not just the butterfly's, but yours as well.
Sometimes you'll find someone on the path who is clearly under the spell of the butterflies, as if in a thrall, standing still, enjoying the butterfly breeze. This is easy to have happen! Standing still encourages butterflies to come closer, to perch on a shoulder or hat brim, and those that simply float by create a small breeze that is so subtle and sweet it makes you shiver!
The House is planted with all the food each butterfly needs. Joe Pye Weed is a big hit, as is the Butterfly Bush, several varieties of Cone Flower, and bright Summer annuals. There are also plates of fruit places around the House--this is probably like the corner store where you can buy a candy bar and hang out with your buddies. Very popular spot!
One of the best things to do here is people watch! Just seeing the faces as kids and families enter the House, and listening to the "oooohhhhs" and "aaahhhhhhs" of discovery and delight is such a thrill! Kids carrying ID cards lead the way and call out the lovely names of each butterfly. Everyone crowds around to wonder, a camera comes out to capture the Painted Lady, and then everyone rushes to make the next discovery.
In the Butterfly House, no one acts cool or under-impressed, not even teen-agers. No one can resist, truly! These delicate, ephemeral creatures seem to engender our most tender responses, our undisguised awe and wonder. You can hear it in voices, see it on faces, feel it in the atmosphere.
I left wondering how we might put this into a pill form, to readily dispense in times of suffering and pain and hopelessness, to offer during these times we face now all over planet Earth.
Check it out!