Fortunately for me, my sister’s personal totem is the butterfly. Otherwise I probably would’ve skipped visiting the Butterfly House & Marine Cove in Sioux Falls, SD. I stopped, planning to pick up a postcard to let her know I was thinking about her. Turned out, her devotion to butterflies was a gift to me.
The Butterfly House is way more than a tourist attraction. Situated in a beautiful city park, the building even looks butterfly-ish. The facility offers a range of educational and healing programs.
There’s an aquarium room with an array of brilliantly colored sea life, even a shark petting pond. But I didn’t linger. I was there for the butterflies. To enter the butterfly room, you open a heavy door and wait in a small, dark foyer until the door has closed. This is to assure no critters escape. When you open the second door, the first thing you do is smile. You can’t help it. C.S. Lewis himself could not have created such a scene behind his fabled wardrobe.
More than 800 butterflies from all over the world are flying freely. They present a range of colors, sizes and intricate wing patterns that push the boundaries of imagination, much less description. Their habitat is Eden-like. In the 80 degree climate, tropical flowers burst with bloom. A pond is filled with small fish. Scurrying under the lush plants are tiny Asian blue quail.
The website claims, “Research shows that viewing peaceful nature scenes helps reduce blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and stress while improving mood and speeding recovery time.” I don’t know about my heart rate, but my joy quotient skyrocketed. I strolled and watched, grinning like an idiot. A woman walking toward me had the same kind of smile on her face.
I wanted to stay all day, but the road beckoned. Leaving was the same process as entering. A volunteer checked me over to make sure I had no hitchhikers on my body. No butterflies escaped with me, but the joy lingers. I was reminded: there is much goodness in this country.