Wings to Lift the Spirit

“What do you want to do when you visit, Mom?” I don’t hesitate.

“Let’s go to the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. I haven’t been there for years.”

My son David laughs. He knows I love butterflies, and he lives an hour from the world-class butterfly house in Durham, North Carolina.


Blue Morpho

Banded Morpho











Morphos with closed wings (butterfly camo) and others dining on ripe fruit

“Sure,” he says, “and I’ll probably have Swallowtails in my gardens by then. And Bluebirds. Lots of Bluebirds. Before we go to the conservatory, I scheduled a massage session for you.”  (I feel like the Queen Mother.)








Magic Wings is an 8000 square-foot tropical conservatory with nearly 4000 free-flying tropical and native butterflies from all over the world!” 

The butterfly conservatory is a place of peace—a tropical paradise providing a break from the news. I wander with David and then sit on wooden benches while gorgeous butterflies float, sunbathe, lift, soar, and stop for a taste of fresh flower nectar or an orange or nearly rotten banana.









David and I follow the butterflies around with cameras. It’s Blue Morpho paradise, a Costa Rican butterfly I never see in New York, although I had a dream about one once. I don’t know the boy in this photo, but I love his focus. He stands quietly, gazing at the Morpho for many minutes, neither of them moving.

Migrating monarchs arrive in New York near the end of May or early June. Until then, there is an April afternoon at a peaceful butterfly temple in North Carolina where the butterfly goddess Psyche reigns.


On David’s back porch after our trip to the butterfly museum. (Photos of the day by David and me.) I want to learn the names of all the butterflies we saw and photographed. Do you know the names of many butterflies and moths?

For a post about a dream I had of a Blue Morpho, even though I’d never seen one, see The Color of Forgiveness. For a story of my sons after their dad died, see Pushing Through: A Poem for Grieving Hearts.

  1. My heart leaps up when I behold Elaine sitting on a blue (imagine it’s a Morpho) butterfly. What an uplifting post! And what a son who arranged for a trip to the butterfly Conservatory AND a massage – part of the deal.

    David has your kind, sensitive spirit. and he also knows when to indulge his mama, who deserves pampering. (I want to read The Color of Forgiveness in case it’s one I’ve never read.)

    I’m reading this at 6:15 this morning, so you’ve given me a sweet start to the day. Thank you, thank you, Elaine, and may you have a Magic Wings kind of Wednesday!

    • Thank you, Marian. It was an incredible day and a great trip. I’m not a relaxed traveler, but I’m so glad I went. Blessed Easter.

  2. I love Blue Morphos and have my own connection with them, as you may recall. So glad you got to see all the butterflies and that your son spoils you a little bit when you visit!

    • Cathy, I thought of you and your Blue Morpho story many times while we were at the butterfly conservatory. How could I forget? The butterfly house is gorgeous and spacious. I didn’t share photos of half the butterflies, but it was the Morphos who rang my bell. You made me love them forever. (My son definitely spoiled me and we also shared a fantastic lunch at Whole Foods.) He suggests we go to Mexico to see the wintering Monarchs. Wow! It could happen!

      • If anyone deserves to go, it’s you! 🙂 Would the risk of vertigo be too great? Or would it be worth the risk?

        • Thank you, Joe. Yes, the risk of vertigo would be great, but would it be TOO great? Probably not. I’d give myself plenty of recovery time. My son who took me to the butterfly conservatory brought up the possibility of going to Michoacán together twice now and he’s serious. I’m looking for an ecologically based trip that’s more than a one day journey. I want to see and learn in a relaxed way if I go that far. Many tours emphasize the luxury of the accommodations which isn’t my priority. I’ll keep searching to see if the right tour comes up. Thanks again for encouraging me.

  3. How simply lovely Elaine! The boy watching/gazing at the Morpho is a delight, he’s clearly entranced, Psyche in operation. The photos are beautiful as is the one of you on the butterfly bench. I keep my eyes out for butterflies, always a joy when sighted. Every time I leave my home by car or on foot, a small white solo butterfly flutters by .. I often wonder where is its mate.

    • Thank you, Susan. I don’t know your little white butterfly, but butterflies I know here don’t have long-term mates. They have one encounter for sperm transfer and then the male searches for another female. I loved that meditating boy, too. He stayed focused for a long time. There were many children around, but he’s the only one I saw with that deep concentration. The butterfly conservatory is an amazing gift to a butterfly nut like me.

  4. Wow, my goodness! It looks amazing and sounds like paradise. You have your queen and Co nearby and I am so happy for you, dear Elaine, and this wonderful occasion ❤️. We spend the last day in Mallorca and tomorrow will fly back home. Thank you for these beautiful images and have a lovely day. ❤️

    • I was a Butterfly Queen, Aladin, and loved the variety of butterflies in my royal court. My son gave me an incredible treat and he enjoyed it, too. He’s twice mentioned going to Mexico next winter to see the Monarchs who migrate to the forest there, so I need to practice saying yes. (In my defense, flying is hard for someone with Meniere’s Disease because I already have problems with vertigo and disequilibrium). I’m glad you got to Mallorca with your adventurous wife. I’ve heard how beautiful it is there. Have a smooth re-entry home.

  5. Sitting in that blue butterfly chair, Elaine, it looks like you’ve morphed into a butterfly yourself. How lovely.

    • It wasn’t a comfortable bench, Robin, but is morphing into a butterfly comfortable? I have no idea, but I felt like a Butterfly Queen. My son snapped the photo.

  6. Dear Queen Mother (of butterflies and sons),
    Thanks for sharing more magic! After reading your post, I went on an online tour of the Magic Wings Butterfly House, imagining your joy at being there in person with David.

    I don’t have much knowledge of butterflies, except the one that has landed on me several times is the mourning cloak butterfly. Your entry has inspired me to pay closer attention to butterflies this year.

    I recently received a card from a friend who is a local artist and has been commissioned to paint a butterfly mural. She said that she will be painting mostly local varieties, including a Western Tiger Swallowtail, a Lorquin’s Admiral, a Cabbage White, and perhaps the Island Marble butterfly, which was seen on San Jaun Island in 1998 after being thought to b extinct in 1908.

    Spring is here, with more leaves unfurling every day, and I am sending spring blessings your way, Anne

    • Hi Anne, the first butterfly I see every spring in the woods is a Mourning Cloak. I’ve seen a few this year and never see many. I love imagining this butterfly mural (and seems everyone has delicate little cabbage whites). I’d love to see an image of it when it’s done. I don’t have butterflies now, but birds are courting, singing, and nesting. In the nesting boxes near the house, I have a bluebird couple and a tree swallow. Yesterday the other 5 boxes were still unoccupied. I watch them through a binoculars or telescope for a close-up view, usually early in the morning or late afternoon. Daffodils spread yellow joy everywhere and the forest has pale lilac Hepatica and more yellow Trout Lilies than I’ve seen here in the past. Hundreds of them. It’s a thrilling time of year. My son in North Carolina sent a photo of a bluebird sitting on her eggs even when he opened the box door to look in. That’s a relaxed Mama. These beauties help me survive our truly terrifying world. Sending back love and spring blessings.

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