Monday, October 3, 2016

B is for Butterflies

I knew what our B date would be almost as soon as we arrived in Colorado. We lived in temporary housing until we closed on our own home. I kept seeing signs marked "Butterfly Pavilion" as I drove along the highway. Jeannene and I both remarked that it would be fun to check it out soon. We had some great memories of the butterflies at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (B is for Botanical) and Epcot.

Expecting it to be solely butterflies, and lots of them, I confidently planned our date at the Butterfly Pavilion. I mean, what an innocuous name, right? When Jeannene affirmed that she would be done with working from home yesterday by 2:30 or so and we could do our B date, I went to the website to check the hours. I was a little surprised to see the term "invertebrate zoo" and dismayed to think I may be confronted with snakes, not remembering that they are, in fact, vertebrates.

We arrived at the Butterfly Pavilion hungry and stopped by the hot dog stand out front, planning to share a burger before going in to see the flutterbies. After we'd ordered and paid, we discovered that not only was the grill not on, but there wasn't even any propane for it. Not wanting to waste our butterfly time waiting for a propane tank to arrive, we canceled our order, subbed some chips, and headed inside.

The first thing we encountered, in the Crawl-A-See-Um, was a young man with an abundantly overflowing bun, holding Rosie the tarantula and inviting folks to visit with her. My wife, who is terribly afraid of spiders and bugs, shivered a bit, but did not leave the room. I told her I'd be happy to go with her out from the bug and arachnid area. I was so impressed with her decision to stay, and even get up close, so that Elijah could see the creatures in the room. She showed him the Goliath beetle, tarantulas, walking sticks, and all kinds of other creepy-crawlies that I know horrified her. She did not show any of this creeped-out-ness to our boy, though, wanting him to come to his own conclusions about bugs. I'm not sure I could have been so generous, had it been snakes, instead. I'm with Indiana Jones on that matter. One of our big boys, Boot, takes after me on the snake thing. The other is, like Jeannene, appalled by any sort of bug or spider. It'll be interesting to see where Elijah falls, but I definitely agree that he should be able to come to that place without being unduly influenced by his mamas.

When we got to the bees, she was on more comfortable ground. I'd been thinking, "Oh, man, I tried to plan a great butterfly date and it ended up being a BUG date! Poor Jeannene." But she remained perfectly sanguine. The bees were familiar territory, as her dad had been a beekeeper and she had lots of experience with them. I was especially surprised when she was prepared to take Elijah to see Rosie. I wasn't sure I was prepared for a close encounter with a tarantula and I knew she was probably freaking inside. Luckily for the moms, you have to be 3 years or older to visit with Rosie.

The next room, Water's Edge, was easier for both of us, with lobsters, starfish, crabs, and other aquatic creatures. We even saw a kind of jellyfish we'd never seen before. We'd just been enjoying the jellies at the Vancouver Aquarium, so it was cool to see another sort.

While in there, we heard an announcement that they'd be doing a butterfly release shortly, so we hurried to the tropical butterfly habitat. What a delight! Butterflies flittered everywhere. Elijah noticed them right away and began pointing to them. We've learned that when he points, it's wise to look. He has sharp eyes and seems to enjoy showing us things we might not otherwise notice. The volunteer who did the release spoke with us about the various kinds of butterflies we saw and taught us a lot about butterfly development and life. I had no idea that there are some butterflies who live up to a year!

After exhausting our interest in the butterflies (and the lovely flowers upon which they feed), we moved on to the final room, where we declined to dig for mealworms (I did plenty of that when we had a turtle). Elijah can do that when he's older, though. We enjoyed checking out the exhibits, then made our way through the gift shop. Elijah got very excited about the butterfly toys, so we let him chose which one he liked best. He chose a blue one, although a green variety was a strong contender. I found a lovely butterfly ring to be my rain check animal treasure hunt prize. We then went outdoors to stroll around the (seasonally depleted) gardens. All in all, a very fun date!

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