ne early March day, I
decided to check on the
goldfish in the Danville Science Center’s Butterfly Station and Garden to see if any of them were awake from their winter sleep. Bringing along some fish food just in case, I lifted up the winter-covering net and tossed a few pellets of food on the water. After about 20 seconds a little golden face appeared at the top, looking straight at me. The goldfish gobbled up a food pellet, then disappeared into the darkness below, but in his momentary stare, he seemed to be saying, “If there is a person standing here, then spring cannot be far behind.” I was saying a version of the same to myself, “If the Butterfly Station’s goldfish are awake, then spring can’t be far behind.”

We support the butterflies and goldfish, but sometimes there are other guests who are a bit rowdy. The occasional groundhog will chew through the net to come inside the garden and look for something to eat. Sometimes on my way to lock the garden gate at closing time, the ever-wary groundhog has already spotted me and has scurried away in the distance. I didn’t see any groundhogs on that day in March because they were most likely far away in their subterranean dens, the locations unknown. Even if known, we wouldn’t be so rude as to rouse a poor groundhog from his sleep and force him to make some dubious weather prognostication.

Birds will sometimes work their way inside, so we try to shoo them out. Usually, they will become tired from flapping about and we can gently net them and let them go. Our deadliest visitors have six and eight legs respectively: the praying mantis and spider, especially the orb-weaving Writting Spider. One time, I saw two butterfly wings at a very unnatural angle to each other in a butterfly bush. Looking closer, I discovered that most of the butterfly’s main body was gone, and that a praying mantis was sitting there between the wings, finishing his meal. Even though these creatures are deadly to the butterflies, we at the DSC just escort them out, in about the same manner as a badly-behaved person in a movie theater is shown the door.

Making an addendum to what I previously said about the goldfish and making a prediction more accurate than that of any groundhog, “If the DSC Butterfly Station’s goldfish are awake, then spring and the re-opening of the Butterfly Station are surely and certainly to follow!”

• Butterfly Hello and the grand re-opening of the Butterfly Garden at the DSC’s Butterfly Station, 677 Craghead Street, is Saturday, April 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Garden gates open at 11:00 a.m. with hands-on activities. Butterfly releases will be at noon and 2:00 p.m. The Butterfly Station and Garden is open during regular DSC hours throughout the summer. For more information, visit www.dsc.smv.org or call 434.791.5160.

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