You wouldn’t necessarily think of butterflies when you think of Africa, or at least I did not. Yellow and black, orange and deep brown, and the ubiquitous white ones—perhaps they are moths?—they are everywhere skimming over the waves of grass. Occasionally, they sit on a crest and float for a moment…
It makes you see what we have destroyed with our tidy, weed-free lawns and pavement everywhere. The weeds are plentiful here, but so are the glorious butterflies! The roads are unpaved, rutted and gullied disasters. Sharp boulders and sometimes wooden gates are placed strategically to slow commercial vehicles so taxes can be collected. Of course they slow everyone, on foot, on picki-picki, and in the rare 4-wheel drive vehicle. They do not slow the butterflies, or the waves, though.
If butterflies during the day point out the obvious, that we are not in Kansas anymore, it is the stars at night. The sparkling lights of the fishermen on the lake-side horizon do not seem to reach up to the sky to dim the stars. They are myriad, and their patterns strangely tilted—ursas major and minor crawl at odd angles and the hunter’s belt is more vertical than horizontal. The mosquitoes seem to love my flesh, and I cannot linger staring at the stars. But I do get a glimpse as I hurry after dinner from cookhouse to the doctor’s house, across the butterflies’ field.
Image: The doctor’s house, Matoso, Kenya 3 June 2017. S. Ball