Ah Sweet Mystery of Life

We live in a world of abundant knowledge. And if there’s something we don’t know, we can simply run a question through Google and we will find someone somewhere who has an answer – even if it isn’t the correct one. But sometimes, when I am walking in nature, I will come face to face with an experience that makes me realize that we don’t know everything; that much of life is still a mystery.

In an earlier post, I described watching migrating cranes in the Belgian Ardennes. These giant birds, standing two meters high and with a wingspan of over two meters, migrate from Portugal and Morocco to Scandinavia (and back) – a journey of over 2000 kilometers. We don’t know how they do it.

How do birds migrate? How does a swallow fly from South Africa to Belgium and return to the very same nest where it was hatched, the year before? Despite many highly creditable theories, we don’t know for sure.

Last Spring I was walking in a nature reserve south of Leuven, and I saw a beautiful orange-and-black butterfly that I had never seen before. I photographed it, and when I got home looked it up on Google. It was a butterfly called the Map, so called because its underwings are marked like a map.

In July I was in the same area and saw another new butterfly – this one was brown-and-white. Again, I took a photo, looked it up at home and discovered that it was called … the Map butterfly!

Surely not. The two photos I took were of completely different butterflies.

But on reading up about this butterfly, it turns out that the orange-and-brown Map butterfly which appears in Spring, lays eggs which develop into caterpillars. These pupate and eventually hatch into completely different brown-and-white butterflies, which appear in the Summer. These in turn lay eggs which eventually develop the following spring into orange-and-black butterflies! Why? No-one seems to know.

Much as I love finding out how things work, I also secretly love the fact that there is much in Life that is simply a Sweet Mystery.


  1. A beautiful wander through the mystery of the butterfly and indeed, life, Denzil. I agree… we don’t have to understand how everything works. Have a great day 🙋🌟


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