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My Butterfly Collection - Part 1

I was just 12 years old when our family moved to Chiapas, Mexico. There are so many stories of how life in the Yerba Buena mission compound was for me. They someday will fill a book. But for now, I want to tell you about my first real hobby.

I found myself , as a preteen in a foreign country, where I did not speak or understand anything that was happening outside the confines of our family and the half dozen American families on the mission compound, without friends or peers. Over about 6 months, I really struggled to grasp the situation and how to maneuver in this new life I had been thrown into.

The mission compound was a teaching clinic. There was both a boys' and girls' dorm. Our family was first placed in a small apartment at one end of the boys' dorm. Consequently, I first made friends with many of these young men, most of whom were at least 5 years older than me. The one I developed the closest relationship to was a fellow from Honduras, named Dagoberto. If I remember correctly, he did speak a little English, and that was probably the reason we formed a quick relationship.

By the end of our first year at Yerba Buena, I had become fairly fluent in Spanish, and we had moved into a much bigger apartment at the girls' dorm. This building was called Casa Grande. It housed not only our family, but also was where the kitchen and dining room for the students was located. It truly was a Big House, or Casa Grande!

On warm afternoons, after the (ridiculously many, many, really too many) church services, when young people were allowed to take (very) supervised walks, Dagoberto taught me to catch butterflies. Not with a net, mind you,

but by sneaking up on them and grabbing them as the sat on a stem of grass or a flower, soaking up the sun. It turns out that, if you are stealthy enough, and you learn to grab a little butterfly while the wings are folded, by the thorax, they are instantly paralyzed. It is definitely a technique that has a very steep learning curve. But I did learn to do this. It took time, but that was certainly something I did have lots of!

Back then, all the girls who could afford to do so, wore stockings, at the very least to church. In Mexico, these stockings came in flat, lidded boxes, about 8" x 10". And they were padded with cotton. They were perfect for displaying my butterflies. Of course, I had to learn to mount them properly...

Somewhere, I acquired a piece of foam to use as a mounting board. Looking at this photo i found on the internet, I wish I had thought to put a thin layer of tissue down over them and then pin the tissue! But I did not. I remember struggling to get the pins to hold the wings down without ruining them. Another learning curve!

There were so many beautiful butterflies in Mexico that I had never seen or even imagined

seeing while growing up in the Northwest. As the months went by, I accumulated a couple of stacks of boxes lined with butterflies, that I kept up on the top of the bookshelf in the bedroom I shared with my sister, Toni.

We had this little paperback that helped me identify some of them, but most of the butterflies I caught were indigenous only to Latin America.

All these photos are stock photos off the internet. Stay tuned to my future Butterfly Blogs and I will tell you why....

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Mar 22

... Here it comes!

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