Butterfly kisses

As afternoon mellowed to evening, a skittish east wind began to play. And with it, the unmistakable smell of smoke made its now-nightly debut.

It seems some people get a kick from lighting fires on our tinder-dry moorlands and natural spaces.

Some in ignorance, perhaps, enjoying the freedom of wild camping, not appreciating how quickly a fire can spread in this dry weather (I’m being kind, I actually think it is the height of selfishness and stupidity).

But some – I find it hard to believe – do it deliberately. There have been arrests.

Emergency services are stretched and coming from far and wide. Dwindling supplies of reservoir water are being dumped by helicopters on widespread fires on peat that will burn – and burn – and burn.

That’s tens of miles away. But even here, in our beloved dunes and pines, a fire was started – and, thankfully, put out.

I just don’t get it.

But anyway. Back to my Sunday evening.

It was some hours since we had walked on our local dunes. I took with me my latest toy, a new old camera. New, in the sense that I bought it on Saturday, old as in second hand.

In fact, I think for once ‘pre-loved’ is a valid description. Although it’s electronic, with touch screen and megapixels, it came with an old leather carrying case, all the instruction booklets, the guarantee (long since redundant) and a lingering air of reluctant parting.

I was frowning over the manual when the prof went inside for the first of two pre-arranged  evening phone calls – this from a nephew who will be visiting him in Zambia this summer.

I gave up in exasperation and instead started examining the first crop of photos. And as I did so the battery ran out. Clearly I need a back-up.

It was then …

… but no, first, let me share our dune walk.

The soft, silky sand was hot underfoot, the going hard up the steep inclines. But early on we began to notice how varied the effects of the weather have been.

Beginning the walk, up the first hill, hot, soft, dry sand and the golf course fence bleached in the sun

While grasses were parched and bleached in most of the upper areas, there were also sides of dunes that were lush and green. Valleys with leafy trees and, as we discovered, cool remains of brimming pools in the dappled shade of the slacks.

A lush slope. the only telltale sign it’s a sand dune the paths rising up it

The slack I saw a couple of months ago now lessened but still a magnet for wildlife

We disturbed a large bird of prey, I saw only the shadow of its departing wings – the prof saw a yellow beak – and it flapped off to find better sanctuary. Or to hunt.

A chance feather left a clue to its identity.

Unfortunately the slack was also home to horse flies and we departed in a hurry.

The scent of honeysuckle wafted over us from time to time and pointilistic clumps of flowers spattered occasional bursts of colour amid the arid patches of sand.



We’re hoping these are tracks of a sand lizard – one of the protected species that ensure all this coast remains an SSSI – a Site of Special Scientific Interest

This fuzzball fell from the sky – sensible bird that dropped this one!

The neighbouring golf course looked dry. The golfers hot.

Sun trap for golfers

And though the views of the sea were glorious – if distant – an hour was enough. No beach walk beckoned, but rather our little plot, the pines, the birds, the butterflies and – phone calls.

And so it was, a cold beer in our local village and a selection of appetisers later, that I sat with my battery-devoid-phone, perusing the camera’s manual, when a little piece of wonder descended upon our outdoor table.

A small, pale brown butterfly settled on the booklet. My hand was sitting next to it, so rather than frighten the creature I left it there, in the hot sun that the butterfly – a rather moth-eaten (so to speak) Wall Brown – plainly craved. Their wings being organic solar panels, generating the heat that keeps their warmth-craving bodies happy.

And as I sat and watched, the butterfly moved. Adjourned to my hand.

I bent quite close and watched, but it seemed unperturbed.

And then.

It uncurled its little proboscis, into the gap between my ring finger – the one wearing a silver copy of Charlotte Bronte’s wedding ring – and my little finger.

I was a human reservoir! A secret reserve of salty water for my thirsty little companion.

The coiled and uncoiled strand of butterfly anatomy was so delicate, so tiny, so gentle, I felt nothing. Though I did feel the fleeting touch of the creature’s movements.

And as it finally flew, its wings brushing my hand, I was back on my mother’s knee. A child of four, or five, or six.

‘Give me a butterfly kiss,’ she would say, bending close, just as I bent over my butterfly.

And I would bat my lashes against her cheek.

I’ve always wondered if butterfly kisses were a ‘just our family’ thing.

But now, I know. They’re real.


If you are interested in the wider local wildfire situation, here’s a recent report from a Manchester newspaper.


This entry was posted in Britain now & then, Lancashire & the golf coast, Nature notes, Thinking, or ranting, or both and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Butterfly kisses

  1. Fiona Unwin says:

    A lovely police, I was with you on the dunes! Glorious photos too. Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fiona Unwin says:

    Piece, not police!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christa says:

    What a beautiful tale, so vividly told ( as always). We did ‘butterfly kisses’ too as children – maybe it’s a Lancashire thing. I love your description of the dune walk too, and I share your rage at the stupid arsonists.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thel says:

    Restful! I grew up with butterfly kisses too, but I have not thought about them in years. Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ardys says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, Mary. Had forgotten the term ‘butterfly kisses’, not having been something we practiced, but one I shall store away in case I ever have grandchildren, or for my young niece and nephew. What a really lovely experience to have a butterfly land on you 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Heide says:

    What is WRONG with people that they would deliberately set nature on fire?! I like your approach much better, Mary: To walk softly and marvel at nature’s wonders. And what a wonder indeed it must have been to have that little butterfly take its rest on your hand! Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Heide, you always see the things that make the world special so your comments always mean a lot to me 🙂 It was an interesting feeling, knowing I couldn’t even attempt to take a picture of something so intimate. No battery, no free hand!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Judy Barnes says:

    Thank you for taking us on your lovely walk Mary. Stunning views and photographs. Were they all taken with your preloved camera?
    Lovely account of butterfly kisses ;a gift of pure trust and a precious moment in time. XO

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What wonderful synchronicity… an opportunity to fully experience an exquisite moment of present time and past with all your senses sans mechanical recording device. A photograph would have recorded the moment but not conveyed the wonder of your words. However, do lot let this dissuade you from photography, those photos from your new old camera and dune walk are marvellous, I love the contrast of up close detail & further away perspectives, and I never can resist snapping an interesting fence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love fences! And gates. And holes in walls. I was at an airshow yesterday with the new old camera and suspect I may have to do a mainly-pictures post to get it out of my system. Why I should love watching death bringers I don’t know, but they look so beautiful. Ah well. Just like nature I suppose, even beautiful things with wings can be deadly. Like magpies.
      Yes, I was grateful for the absence of camera. Without it I would not have been granted the moments of wonder.
      Hope all’s going well with your horticultural endeavours – so hard to imagine as the sun beats down on us here that you are having winter. Ardys’ post was a lovely reminder.


  9. Butterfly kisses are in “our family” too, Mary! Love your post and especially the up close pictures of the little critters – thanks for sharing your world!

    Liked by 1 person

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