Visiting my grandparent's house growing up I remember being fascinated by a picture hanging on the wall in the hallway. The camera was pointed skyward, towering evergreen trees crowded around the lens and reached up toward the sky. And, looking almost as if on purpose, the tree's needles and branches created an opening in the forest canopy in the perfect shape of a butterfly.
It was directly in the center of the picture, the color of the sky, looking almost as if it had been painted in blue pastels with wisps of white streaking through it from the clouds overhead and hanging as if suspended by the dark forest green of the trees. I remember walking past it many times before I finally asked someone about it.
Turns out it was a photograph taken by my father. I remember asking him about it, as I was fascinated by how the trees had created such a perfect outline and how he could have come across such a thing and actually noticed it. I was interested in photography myself, at least as a hobby. This was a long time ago and I only remember one thing he said. He said, “Someday, you'll find your butterfly.”
I listened to what he said, thinking about how rare it must be that tree branches form the shape of an animal, of anything. There was also the fact that he, being a professional photographer, had the knack for creating something out of nothing, as all artists do. But finding that out in the woods probably took a little imagination. Something that's easy to lose touch with in our adult lives - we're all busy being grown-ups.
As I grew older, myself growing into a grown-up, I spent a lot of time in the woods, camping, hiking etc. And still do, and almost all of the time carrying a camera. Though it's been at least twenty five years since I first saw that photograph, I've still yet to find my butterfly. But it's not for lack of looking up and it's not for lack of imagination. I gaze up at the forest canopy quite often, marveling in the majesty of the trees, admiring how the trees filter the light. But not once have I seen even the remotest resemblance of a shape, let alone a butterfly.
But I'll keep looking up, remembering to watch where I step; I wouldn't want to walk off a cliff as I search for beauty in the heavens. I'm sure I've walked under many a butterfly so far and I'm sure that one day, one will flutter it's wings hard enough to get my attention and I'll forever capture it's beauty in a photograph. That is, if I remember to bring both my camera and my imagination.