What: A slow, observant walk through a butterfly house, such as this tour of the now defunct London Butterfly House by Italian photographer Paolo Mollica:
Why: As public image goes, the butterfly is second to no arthropod. It is no less an insect then the roach or the hornet; consider the reputation of its order-mate the moth, which cannot appear but once in a closet before being chased out with a broom. Its name comes from the legend that witches transformed into the winged bugs to steal butter from helpless medieval milkmaids. Strange, then, that the butterfly has become the pinnacle of serenity. Part is due to its winsome beauty and riot of coloration, but the butterfly’s key feature is its peacefully erratic flight pattern. You can’t take your eyes off a butterfly, because you can’t predict its path. That is, unless you are surrounded by hundreds of them. This is usually only possible in a butterfly house, the most calming type of manmade structure on earth. The indoor climate is a constant 80 degrees, the perfect temperature for your own inactivity. And if you wear bright colors, the butterflies will land on you, a true delight. Just remember to turn around a few times on your way out, so that you don’t leave with a hitchhiker.
Impact: Weather, logging, and predation wipe out species of butterflies at an alarming rate. Butterfly houses provide conservation of many threatened species, in environments safe from outside forces. At many houses, you can watch them emerge from their chrysalises. To learn about the Butterfly Conservation Initiative, go to butterflyrecovery.org.
Personal Connection: The room of choice for me is the Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House. We went there with scarlettina earlier this week, and I was once again reminded that if I could just take a laptop and work there all day, I’d probably write a lot of calming, introspective stories. Then again, I might forget to write at all.
Other Contenders: strolling among tulip fields; getting a cucumber facial at the Bellagio day spa in Las Vegas; standing in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro; hanging out at the base of a waterfall, such as at Snoqualmie Falls (a.k.a. Twin Peaks); looking out on Manhattan from the deck of the Empire State Building; doing just about anything with a puppy.