Archive for the 'butterflies' Category


Caterpillar in Hualien

My students thought I was weird for stopping to take a picture of this caterpillar munching on a flower.   Caterpillars in Taiwan tend to be quite exciting and fairly common.  Butterflies flit about in many varieties and colors on the mountain trails.   Someone once told me that Taiwan was the empire of the butterflies or something like that.   Of course, gardeners like my aunt aren’t overly fond of caterpillars.



The other morning I was taking my dry shirts in from the overhang porch where our clothes dry on hanging bamboo and PVC poles. Tired and slightly hurried, I grabbed the hangers and wafted them into the dim apartment. As I turned from the corridor, I noticed something interesting on my shirt. A closer look in the light revealed a perfectly still moth. Being diseased with shutterbug, I had to get a photo of it. I hung the shirts on my doorknob, grabbed the camera, and realized that my light was terrible. I wasn’t sure if the moth was dead or alive, considering how it hadn’t budged down the hall to my room.

I took it outside to the sunlit open window of the porch, and snapped a photo. Then I turned the shirt to the side to get a better profile view of its yellow and black speckled body. With a flick of its wings, it was off, fluttering into the blue.

I guess it was just deep in a dream of… What do moths eat? Oh, right… shirts. 😉


At the park on the weekend

Little kids learning to rollerblade really remind me of baby ducklings waddling and vaguely silly, balancing on their feet while they uneasily teeter in a crooked line.

Is it just me, or do these helmets resemble ping-pong balls missing some holes and a half?

Mothers are marvelous for picking you up when you’re down and steadying you once you’re back up on your feet… or blades, as the case may be.

(Thanks for everything Mom!)

I love the glimmer of dusty electric blue on this butterfly’s wings.

I don’t know what flower this is– does anyone else know? It’s kind of bushy.

One of those instances where it’s hard to tell who’s walking whom…

Hand-decorated kite out for a flight…



My students ate so many M&Ms and Skittles that their teeth turned blue. I didn’t even open the bag of peanut M&Ms.

And after we read the The Outsiders a little before the part that makes me cry, but at the part which still drew me in enough to totally forget to mark which parts we would talk about in class and which parts would be served by a verbal summary, we played Taboo! with very generous squeals of the red spike-headed squeaker. Predictably, two kids flicked their socks off, one rolled on the floor laughing, and we had a jolly good time. Also, possibly predictably, my team won. ;D

On the way home, I stopped in my little corner 7/11, where I know all the staff and they all know me dashing in to grab a box of microwave dumplings at three in the afternoon for the day meal that isn’t really breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the way to class or sometimes the night meal on my way home after nine, or the daily bottle of orange juice or cranberry juice or in pre-diluted milk tea days, milk tea.

One of the cashiers was in her day clothes with her little daughter in tow, and two of the teens were manning the register in the requisite burgundy-tan shirts. I was walking back with my bottle of orange juice and noticed a white butterfly fluttering and flitting over the blue-silver tinsel garland hung from the ceiling to decorate Mother’s Day cake promotions. It was suspended in a blur of white wings looking for the heart of this long strange flower-wannabe. The tinsel threads swayed just a little as the white wings frantically beat the air around them. The little girl and I watched it weave around the shining strand and finally settle to take a deep breath on the ceiling, eyes still on the tantalizing tinsel.

It was a cabbage butterfly, I think. My cousin told me that it’s a plague for Taiwanese farmers, as it hasn’t much in the way of predators.  This one was happy drinking from daisies by the river in Gongguan.

Anyway, the tall cashier with a smooth white forehead and curly long hair got a wooden stepping stool to stand on, her hands cupped as they tried to encircle the butterfly without hurting it. She ended up chasing it with a large translucent plastic bag to the back of the store, then a plastic basket. In the meantime, I’d checked out my bottle of vitamin C and thought I should get back, but the drama forced me to stand outside the sliding doors in the darkening twilight and watch as she skipped and hopped trying to get it into the bag.

Finally she met with success and the daughter of the off-duty cashier got to look at the butterfly fluttering in the bag filled with air, a giant slightly opaque white bubble. The mother took her daughter by the hand, and they stepped past the singing sliding doors and crossed the street to let it go in the park.

I got back and found out that more of my long-term lottery tickets haven’t paid off, and I may be destitute as far as having a clue with my life next year goes. I’m homesick, but maybe I’m homesick for a place that only exists in my head. And maybe it’s a strand of blue-silver tinsel that will leave me thirsty, and I’m a butterfly that will end up lost again where it all began.


More from Kenting National Park

There was a greenhouse of cultivated rare flowers there.  This one was just outside of the greenhouse.

The tree with ribbons for roots.

One of the caves– there were caves dripping with stalactites (or is it stalagmites?) dimly lit with names like “Fairy’s Cave” and “Silver Dragon Cave.”

Sometimes exploring the nature of Taiwan feels like I’ve truly stepped into an alternate world– everything looks just a little bit familiar except when it doesn’t at all. For instance, there are butterflies, but they aren’t the butterflies I remember–the colors are different, the wings are bigger, or their flight is more bird-like.  Or there is greenery in the mountains, but the texture is completely different from what I grew up with.  The rose apple is the shape of a pear with the waxy translucent skin of a candle, and the flesh of an almost spongy apple.  It must have been so exciting for the early explorers to find this lush green island with its mountains of sleeping volcanos and trees weighed down with fruit.  The new variety makes the idea of magic more possible– reality has expanded.

Another link for Kenting National Park with more pictures.


Kenting National Park

Tattered Lotus.

So much depends on a red dragonfly

balanced perfectly


on a blade of grass.

A fuzzy electric blue striped butterfly.

A butterfly that floats convincingly like a bird.

A banana flower dripping down.

Anyone know what this flower/berry collection could be?

A lizard that deigned to allow a photo-op.

There were caves too with rippled rock and a clutch of bats flapping back and forth veering smoothly as dragonflies, the cacophony of cicadas echoing past our ears, trees with ribboned roots, and rumor has it that I missed a monkey sighting.

If you ever get the chance, go visit the Kenting National Park.


Besides birds…

There was plumeria,

and a butterfly.

Free Rice

September 2019
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