Something On My Shoulder


You know the feeling, when you are out and about in the garden wearing a sleeveless shirt in the summertime and something lands on your bare skin. It could be any number of things that give that sensation of the slightest pressure, sort of itchy, moving.


Sometimes it is my own hair, escaped from whatever clippie/bobbie pin/pony jigger contraption that has been used for that day to try and get the bird’s nest off of my neck. Sometimes you can’t see what it is that is crawling on you, but you want it gone.


The free hand, the other one is holding the hose as we are washing out and filling the granite koi bowl birdbath, raises to brush off whoever or whatever is on unprotected, glistening with persperation dewiness skin. It is at just that moment that we see it is a small butterfly, a little duskywing skipper I believe. Hand slowly lowers as we feel the joy of being one with the universe and Nature. Ahhhh.


Those little sticky feet feel entirely different with the knowledge of who it is that is pitty-pattying on my shoulder.


It stays there for the entire koi bowl task, slurping the salt water from my skin. It stays there as I walk down the three sets of concrete steps from the zen garden at the top of the property to turn off the hose down at the house. It stays there as I carefully and slowly open the glass sliding door, tiptoe inside the addition and grab the camera. Bingo!


Back outdoors, whew, it was a miracle that the little hitchhiker did not jettison when the cold inside air hit us, we begin the contortions of trying to capture this magic moment. Reflections of the glass slider, then the cement mirror are a help, but I am hopelessly left handed and cannot figure out how to position the camera correctly.


But looking in the mirrors, I notice and remember that there is something else on my shoulder, a butterfly tattoo. Could it be possible that the little flutterby also noticed the image and felt comfortable landing nearby and hanging around? It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?

Frances

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16 Responses to Something On My Shoulder

  1. lisa says:

    What fun having such a sweet little hijacker. I had a wasp hitchhike on me. I am glad I didn’t swat it. It didn’t mean any harm. It just isn’t as pleasant as having a butterfly hitchhiking.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. It was a sweet experience and was so long lasting. The little butterfly rode on my shoulder all over the garden that morning. I wouldn’t swat a wasp either, that’s how you get stung!
    Frances

  2. I sometimes have dragonflies land on me but never a butterfly that I remember…what a lovely experience

    Lucky you, Donna! I would love a dragonfly to land on me, I think. Stuff lands on me all the time when I have on a tank top outside in summer, usually flies or mosquitoes. This was a pleasant change of visitor.
    Frances

  3. Carol says:

    I’m glad it was a ‘good’ hitchhiker and not some stinger. I’ll go along with giving credit to your tattoo for attracting it!

    Thanks Carol. When it first landed on my shoulder, it was right next to the tatt. It walked up and down and around, it tickled!
    Frances

  4. Layanee says:

    You wild woman you!

    Who, me? HA

  5. I had a hitchhiker yesterday and of course swatted before looking. As it tumbled to the ground, I realized it was a young praying mantis about 2 inches long. I cooed to him and got him to climb onto my finger all the while apologizing for hitting him and looking him over for any injuries. He seemed fine as I gently moved him over to the drooping hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, that I was in the process of watering. He continued on his way.
    I don’t see many praying mantis around anymore so am always careful to protect their eggs and young. I don’t use any pesticides but do live in Central Illinois where farming is king and so are pesticides. I miss seeing the tiny babies trying to survive. I also see very few toads and land turtles around.

    Hi Regina, thanks for sharing your hitchhiker tale! You are a good person, and a good storyteller! I know the difficulty of trying to nurture wildlife when it seems everyone around you is trying to poison them, and us. Keep up the good work, providing an oasis of safe welcome to the critters we really need to coexist with.
    Frances

  6. That was a neat moment to remember. Really cool how you were able to take pictures of the experience. Had that same thing happen and it is so very interesting to see them up close. It is like they know you are enjoying their presence. Great pictures.

    Thanks Sandy. It was cool, and exceptional in that I walked inside the house with the butterfly on me and it didn’t fly off and get confused inside. It was a risk going in, but it seemed there was a chance for a photo. I need to set the camera close to the door for stuff like this. It did stay on me for a very long time, even after all the picture taking. A memorable day.
    Frances

    • Had to tell you about my experience with a Monarch butterfly. It was really late in the fall and starting to get cold. I found one outside that could hardly move so I brought him in the kitchen. It did not take him long to warm up and make my kitchen his home. My family thought I had lost it. lol I even put sugar water on a dish and he would eat off of it. With food and water handy he lived for quite awhile.

      Wow, Sandy, what a great story! Good for you taking in the poor butterfly. If that ever happens here, I will now know what to feed one. Thanks!
      Frances

  7. Wendy says:

    Hello, this is my first reply. I have been enjoying your blog for about 2 months. This topic inspired me to write. I have been gardening for 25 years and never had this happen. In the last month I have had 2 incidents of a yellow jacket or wasp getting into my hair and stinging me – the first time was 4 stings on my head, ouch! After the second incident I tried to figure out what it was. Both times I had used a hair product which I love. I looked at the bottle and the 4th ingredient was “Prunus serrulata flower extract” – a Weeping Cherry tree. The insects thought I was a flower! I also learned that bees don’t like black – some of their most feared predators are Black Bears and skunks. Also, don’t wear bright colors that could be mistaken for a flower! I’ve since switched to Fragrance Free products if I’m going to work in the garden. Love your blog-photography is beautiful!! Wendy

    Hi Wendy, thanks so much for your readership, I really appreciate you! I am so sorry about those stings. I got stung by a wasp this year, first time in forever. Your detective work was good in uncovering what was happening. I might have decided to wear a hat, or a bandana. I hope you don’t get any more stings!
    Frances

  8. Leslie says:

    What a great story…and the photos are wonderful!

    Thanks, Leslie. It was a happy day.
    Frances

  9. sandy lawrence says:

    I think it was the butterfly tatt attraction …
    Great minds, Frances – I, too, have a koi bowl, only mine is oblong and sits on a tall, free form stone. The birds like it, and so do I. Very heavy, though! Hard to clean, but worth the effort!

    Thanks Sandy. Your koi bowl sounds wonderful! I wish I had a nice pedestal for mine. It is so heavy, solid granite, that I cannot carry it at all without injury. It is also a bear to clean, I have a new metal brush that is working well for now. It gets so dirty from the birds, but the large birds like the robins and thrushes love to splash in it.
    Frances

  10. How random a topic for a post … and how lovely! 😉

    Thanks Jack. Isn’t that the beauty of blogging? We can write about whatever we want, whenever we want. I like to tell stories about things that happen in the garden, or even elsewhere like the shark story at the beach. It helps when I can show photos that are pertinent, but if there are no photos, that’s okay, too.
    Frances

  11. While walking the dogs in the evening have had a large black fly thing land on me a few times. They sting — so not too happy about it. Would rather have your little friend! Looked up what was ‘friending’ me— a Robber Fly. ick

    Ick is right, Janet! I am so sorry about your stings. The usual friends that land on me are flies of various sorts. This little butterfly was a delightful change of pace.
    Frances

  12. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    Frances….I do believe that butterfly DID INDEED recognize the butterfly tattoo. How very cool is that! Thanks for sharing this post….I hope you can take more photos of nature’s flying critters on your body! Happy times in the garden. Liz

    Thanks Elizabeth! I like to think it is a possibility, even if it is a bit of a fantasy. If it ever happens again, I will try to capture it in pixels, using a mirror to help position the camera.
    Frances

  13. Gail says:

    I love that tiny tickle that you feel from their little feet…Do you remember the butterflies all over your hand when we were in Chicago at their butterfly house?…So cool. xoxogail

    How could I ever forget that, Gail, it was a highlight of the Chicago Fling for me. But butterflies out in the wild landing on me are even more special. It happens sometimes, but I rarely have the camera at hand.
    xoxoxo
    Frances

  14. Ha! I love the shots of you capturing the moment looking over your shoulder and through the mirror! Sometimes these “real” posts are the best ones of all! I’ve had those hitchhiker moments, too, sometimes with welcome companions like hummingbirds, and sometimes icky critters like flys and mosquitoes. Great post!

    Thanks Plant Postings. I am glad you enjoyed a *real* post! HA I cannot imagine a hummingbird landing on me, I would die of happiness for my life would be complete. I get giddy when a hummer stops in front of my face and hovers, looking me in the eye.
    Frances

  15. Rose says:

    This brought back memories of the Chicago Fling in ’09: I still have photos of butterflies landing on you in the butterfly house there. You must be very sweet, Frances…or salty:)

    HA Rose, I believe salty is the right label for me! That was a special moment, and I treasure those folks who were there to share it with me.
    Frances

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