The Picture that Wasn’t

I’ve been trying to capture a good picture of the Western Tiger Swallowtail for nearly two years now and despite my best efforts the photograph has eluded me.

It’s not that I haven’t seen any of them. Just the opposite. They’re frightfully common around here. I imagine I see one flit past the yard every two or three days through a good part of the summer.

Unfortunately, they just won’t stop flitting from flower to flower long enough to have their picture taken.

Strangely enough, though, I had an encounter of the close kind with one of them last Wednesday night when I went to the park for our Tai Chi class. While waiting for the class to begin, a beautiful Western Tiger Swallowtail nearly landed on my forehead, and, in fact, landed on a leaf not more than a few inches away from me. When I moved closer to examine it, it made no efforts to fly away and sat there serenely as I examined it.

Feeling like the boy in Faulkner’s “The Bear,? I only regretted not having my camera for a moment, too caught up in the sheer joy of experiencing it directly to experience anything else.

After this experience, I really felt that a Swallowtail butterfly soon will trust me enough to allow me the privilege of taking a photograph of it.

Strangely, the day after writing this entry, I stopped to check the herb garden at the Pt. Defiance Rose Garden and almost immediately a Swallowtail fluttered by to visit. Accommodatingly, he flew to some nearby flowers and paused long enough for me to shoot nearly a roll of virtual film. Though I’m still waiting to get the perfect picture I saw at Tai Chi Class, I was delighted by some of the shots I got:

Last night while eating dinner another Swallowtail visited our butterfly bush. Leslie said I should get the camera, but I complained that it would undoubtably be gone before I could go upstairs and get back. After about four minutes, though, I decided to go get the camera. Amazingly the Swallowtail was still there when I got back, and, though, none of these pictures is as good as the one that got away, I did get more pictures I liked: