Once upon a time there was a butterfly. She had emerged from her chrysalis at the very end of autumn and had instinctively hidden in the heart of a hedge for two months as the increasingly cold weather slowly sapped her strength and the winter winds battered her wings.
One frosty morning turned into a extra sunny day and with the last of her vigor she was lured out to seek some warmth.
I found her on the grass, on the dark, dank side of the garden.
Her wings were closed, her antennae askew, and she was on her knees with her legs buckled beneath the weight of her body. When I picked her up she hardly protested at all.
I took her inside the house and mixed up a teaspoon of sugar with two teaspoons of warm water, and placed her in the bowl, legs touching the liquid.
Immediately her tongue unrolled and extended, and she began to drink.
Her wings slowly began to open.
After fifteen minutes her legs could now hold her up. She removed her tongue from the sugar water and began to systematically suck her legs dry.
Then she furled up her tongue and thought for a minute.
She felt the warmth of the sun and gauged the direction. Calculating the minimum strength she would need, she economically walked over to the edge of the dish, fluttered twice and landed on the net curtain.
Shuffling around to the other side, she carefully spread her wings out at a right angle to the sun's rays coming through the window.
She hung there for ten minutes or so, then began a vigorous fluttering.
I picked her up gently and opened the door, opening my hand in the sun. She immediately flew up, hovered for a few seconds, oriented herself, and flew away due west.
I think I saw her again today. She's looking good.