Last Friday, I was sitting on a bench with some ladies, waiting for hours for my bus to arrive so I can journey to the Volta region. I decided to stretch my legs and stroll around the area, and whilst doing discovered a very interesting tree. It was a beautiful green-leaved mango tree from far, but upon closer inspection, the leaves were all black! A dark substance, not unlike soot, covered all the leaves I could see.
This news is shocking to some, but by now I have learned to expect it. You see, my work is in the leaf-beautification industry. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you my story.
I am a butterfly. I have not always been – I spent most of my life as a caterpillar, on the ground and oblivious to the black soot nature of leaves. I had seen the trees from my perspective, and they looked just fine. I didn’t give them much thought, to be honest. I never stopped to consider who made them or why they were the way they were.
Then, one day, the Landscape Designer found me. (Who knew such a man even existed!) He told me about how he planned the entire garden, and put each tree in its place. He told me who I was – a caterpillar of the garden – but that it was time to transform into a butterfly. And so I spun a cocoon and emerged with great wings.
The Designer described his sorrow over the black soot, which he explained to me was from motos and trucks who drive past with their exhausts. What made him really sad was that some poor caterpillars were eating those leaves and getting sick because of it. He shared crazy news – that the ones driving these vehicles were in fact caterpillars themselves! These were the mischievous ones. But in fact, all caterpillars are a little mischievous, sometimes without knowing it. Before making my cocoon I myself had been wearing soot-emitting shoes! I was completely unaware.
He informed me that now since I had become a butterfly, I was an Assistant Gardener (how privileged I am to assist this great Designer!) and that it was now my duty to help care for the garden. “We must restore the leaves to the fullness of their lush, green beauty”, he would tell me, “and take care of those dear caterpillars of mine who are getting sick”.
As a young butterfly, I was just learning how to use my wings and what it meant to help garden. I was sad when I looked at the leaves, so I would just flutter to them and begin clearing some soot. It was hard work! But by the end of the day, me and the other butterflies doing this would look at the tree and cry because you could not notice any difference at all.
With the help of some friends, I came to understand that to fully restore the trees, the underlying problems must be dealt with. As an Assistant Gardener, I should be addressing the trucks and motos! I was so happy to see that there were some marvellous caterpillars that had already thought about this issue. They were spending their time trying to convert the exhaust fumes into a safe substance that wouldn’t harm the trees. Others were crawling on the windows to catch the attention of truck-driving caterpillars. These caterpillars didn’t even have their wings yet and already they were passionate about gardening work! I quickly became friends with them and worked with them to best improve the state of our garden.
I love gardening. It is a joy to get to share in the cool things the Designer has made, and help him to make his garden as beautiful as it is intended to be. I get to help mischievous caterpillars see the errors of their ways, and share with the marvellous caterpillars what it means to be an Assistant Gardener of the Landscape Designer. Sometimes I get discouraged that I am not cleaning well enough or influencing enough moto-drivers. But the more I get to sit and discuss with the Designer, the more I have confidence.
You see, the Landscape Designer has a brilliant plan. He is often off drawing up sketches of what the Final Garden will be, once all the restoring work is done. “Some of the soot is very hard to get off”, he tells me, “but one day soon I will send a powerful rainstorm to wash the soot away and give new life to dying leaves. I will even add blossoming flowers. In the meantime, dear butterfly, continue your work. All the gardening you do is an important part of the process. Though I have plans to complete the beautification process, the contributions you make are not in vain”.
He even told me that my very existence was a part of the beautification! “As a butterfly, you make the garden prettier with those colourful wings of yours”. The Landscape Designer longs for more Assistant Gardeners – anyone who wants wings is welcome to spin his cocoon and get to know the man behind the garden.
And so that is my story. I once was a small caterpillar, and now I am a growing butterfly. I am passionate about gardening, like other butterflies and some caterpillars around me. And we are working together to restore the garden, addressing the sources of exhaust and soot in the process.