‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’- Maya Angelou
The watercolor (above) patiently waited for three weeks while I waded through dengue-clouded sleep and dog-paddled back to the land of the living. Like trying to remember a dream, I now recall details of the illness that return in little snippets, “Oh, the exceptional pull of gravity on my hands and arms felt as if heavy chains kept them cemented to the mattress.” I remember seeing my puffy face in the mirror and wondering, “Who are you?” After the fever left, I walked with a touch of vertigo and often listed to the left like an injured fish swimming in circles. I walked little, as my blood pressure fell if I stood too long, so returning to the bed with easy sleep was a gift.
At times I forced myself to sit up, take my temperature, pulse, drink more liquids, and then I collapsed back into the world of dreams. Oh, the places I went in that dream-packed sleep, and though my dreams I could fly! I could roam the world and other worlds and spend time with a new cast of people! On awakening, the vivid recall kept me entertained, and I rolled back after a brief commercial break and returned a the marathon of dreams.
I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man. ~Chuang Tzu
Two days ago I peered at the watercolor in limbo and pondered the wildflowers in bloom outside. They were at their peak a month ago, and they were now going to seed and would soon be gone for another year. I could rely on reference photos, but there’s nothing (for me) better than working from life. I retrieved some flowers, revived the dried watercolor palette and began painting.
My hand shook just a bit, a detail that disgusted me. Ignoring the slight tremble, I began building layers of color in the leaves. My body adjusted to the task of holding the brush, and I quickly merged with my subject matter. I worked longer than I should have, but was glad when the power failed a few hours later and left the studio in cave-like darkness.
The pale yellow of the flowers seems dull against the white, but it will pop later when other colors are introduced in the background. I’m holding my reins for the final color, which will be blue.
Originally I planned to pair the orange colors with a wash of blue in the background, but decided to introduce another wildflower that blooms at the same time. I photographed it yesterday for National Geographic’s Great Nature Project.
Isn’t this a precious wildflower? These blue accents will be added soon, as the peak blooming period is almost finished.
This was written while waiting for my fourth blood test at the clinic, and I joined at least 50 others for the opportunity to sit in the blood-letting chair! Because this is my second battle with dengue, the doctor wants a weekly check just to confirm there are no complications. I will retrieve the results in the afternoon and hope to be snipping wildflowers and chasing butterflies (with camera) by the end of the day.
To my partners in mosquito-born illness, high fevers and crazy dreams, this song’s for you! I’m pleased to be feeling well again!
Have a great weekend, everyone, and take time to inventory a little slice of biodiversity in your area! I’ve uploaded four images and have a huge queue to go! iNaturalist.org-Lisa Brunetti