Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wings and Things

I promised Victoria a day of Lego's, Play-Doh, blocks and making cool stuff with snippers, stickers and stamps but suggested that if she would trust Grandma, I had something extra fun in mind for the morning. With a stash of crayons and a sippy cup of apple juice handy, we buckled ourselves in and headed up the road a bit to the Reiman Gardens Butterfly Pavillion in Ames.

It was our first visit. What a cool place to hang out on a cold morning!

The Pavillion is a domed, high-ceiling sort of botanical center with tall, exotic tropical plants and a diverse resident army of butterflies of every size, color and shape. As you approach the building from the outside you can see them flying around inside amongst the treetops but their flitting images beyond the glass are only the gentlest of hints as to the magic that lies beyond the pavillion doors.

This is Mr. Shaw.

Mr. Shaw is a docent at the pavillion, knowledgeable in all things winged and fluttery. Before one can enter the pavillion there is a short list of rules that all visitors must review. Entrance to the world of butterflies is through a lock system of two sets of doors. In addition to the safety of curious and wandering butterflies, the door system is a security feature required by the FDA. Apparently some exotic little butterflies can carry exotic little things out into the world on their little wings and feet.

But don't feel bad for them. Life as a butterfly at the Reiman Gardens Butterfly Pavillion is pretty sweet.

Here is where it begins.

When you first enter the buildings, there are several butterfly nurseries behind huge plates of glass where you can stand and observe all sorts of cocoons and chrysalises (chrysalii???) in various stages of development. There were several butterflies hatching at the time of our visit.

Butterflies are seemingly peace-loving, harmonious creatures as the various species are hatched in common nurseries. Apparently the main thing on the butterflies mind, once hatched, is to spread it's wings and grab a bite to eat.

This fabulous giant moth hadn't reached his full wing capacity yet. Most of his neighbors had long since hatched and found their way into the pavillion where they were enjoying the plants and some nice sunlight from the windows.

And long, cool drinks.

The pavillion is a magic place for a wide-eyed 3-year old.

The larger the butterfly, the more trusting they seemed. While the tiniest residents flitted around like sparks on the 4th of July, the larger species seemed quite comfortable with close inspection. While we were not allowed to reach out and touch the butterflies, lest we damage their powder-coated wings, it is permissible to let them land on you and, when coaxed by a docent, they even feel safe and content enough to sit for a time on a tiny finger.

The butterflies have a great life in the place. Overhead misters keep their habitat warm and steamy. Down amongst the plants and flowers is a small pond and random watering dishes.

Cool use for a scrubbee, huh??


The butterflies are obviously healthy and happy in their little world. Entertaining and even comical in the way they flit and dance throughout the place, I raised my camera several times to get a group shot-----but the little things just move too darn fast and are perfectly camouflaged against the variety of plants and flowers.

There are at least 15 butterflies in this picture, if you click on it and see it larger, you can see some of them more clearly.

But the best way is to see them up nice and close, something you can easily do inside the confines of the pavillion.

We stayed for a long, long time.
Holding the attention of a little person for that long is a credit to the entertainment skills of the butterflies. For those who tire in the heat or just want to sit and enjoy the color bursts around them, there are cozy benches throughout the pavillion.

But some of us were just too busy checking out all the pretty wings to sit in them.

It's hard to beat Lego's and a great collection of stamps and stickers at Grandma's house, but I think the visit ranked right up there with good stuff we'd definitely like to do again.
"How was the butterfly house?" Daddy asked when he got home from work.
Victoria told him it was a great idea.

Me and my Grandma spent alot of time looking up.

No comments: