Lantanas exploded in the dry summer heat. Durable green leaves immune to sunburn stretched out over hard dirt filling planters, creeping along sidewalks and cropping up seemingly everywhere. They thrived in July and August, when pinnacle Vegas heat was only sporadically quenched by desert downpours. Amidst their sturdy stems, soft clusters of bright flowers formed tight globes. Yellow. Orange. Red. They embodied resilience, bringing beauty to the desert at a time when residents only ventured outside for the savior of the swimming pool.
When your primary form of transportation is your own two feet, you find ways to appreciate the weather regardless of temperature. Because you have to. And in a blistering stretch of pavement, dirt and gravel decorated by a Budget Suites and grimy shopping center, any signs of life were like a refreshing chug of coconut water on a hot ass day.
As I approached the lush landscaping adorning the front gates of our complex, fluffy orange blurs zoomed through my vision. Butterflies! Tons of 'em. Suckling the vibrant yellow blooms of the flourishing Lantanas. They landed softly. Gentle. Focused. Gliding from one cluster to the next and drinking their fill.
By the time I neared the inviting brick pillars of the library across the street, I felt their feathery swooshes brush the air again. They filled a raised planter ripe with bursting Lantanas. In a patch of shade on the edge of butterfly haven, I shifted my gaze from the comings and goings of patrons to a mini universe much more magical. People walked on by, wrapped in their business, while nature went wild, raining down miracles. There was work to be done, writings to be written, places to go, but all I wanted was to stay with the butterflies. Soaking up every bit of loveliness they exuded. Seeing the miracle in their mere existence. Being so effortlessly beautiful. Realizing what was really there, beyond the blistering heat and sprawling pavement. I found my oasis and decided to name it Butterfly City.