bowie and the butterfly

My love affair wth Bowie started in 1983. I was 20. He was 36. In reality I had adored him long before this. Loved his weirdness. His originality. His music. David Bowie was so much a part of my teenage years. I never quite knew how to pronounce his name properly but I thought he was the biz.

1983. Under the moonlight, the serious moonlight. The first time I saw Bowie live, in Wellington, New Zealand. He looked so stylish dressed in a smart suit, sashaying around the stage. Singing all the songs that everyone loved. 50,000 people in the palm of his hand. It was the era of China Girl - a backstory that captivated my young romantic imagination like no other. It was and still is one of the best concerts I've been to. Ever.

Fast forward to 1995. Now living and working in London, I was beyond excited to think that I'd get to see David Bowie performing again, at Wembley Arena. Little did I know that he was now in a phase of playing only new music - no more well-known hits. He'd moved on to explore new styles of musical expression. He didn't seem to connect with the audience and certainly didn't connect with me. Bowie had transformed and I really didn't get him at all. I fell out of love and moved on.

Life lesson #1 - Don't go back to try and rediscover the magic. That only works with Paris, and not with past loves.

Yet when the news filtered through that Bowie had died, I felt strangely sad, and fascinated all at the same time. In this internet age where everyone knows everything, it was hard to believe he could have managed such a private life and death. The radio played the hits that Bowie had long stopped playing, over and over. Songs that defined so many moments of my golden years. Social media launched into action - words of adoration, outpourings of public grief - even a video of someone icing a biscuit that looked like Ziggy Stardust. Bowie's new album was suddenly charged with meaning and we collectively realised what we had lost.

Bowie was a true artist, and his signature tune was change. I loved his music back in the day and I understand him now - the drive to transform and create till the end of his days...

So I've become a bit obsessed with the idea of transformation. Metamorphisis. Of Bowie and the short but beautiful life of the monarch butterfly. I've been breeding butterflies in the untamed garden. On the last count I have three potentials, plus one that hatched yesterday. I waited for ages with my camera poised, trying to capture the very marvellous moment my hatcher took flight. To no avail. Instead I watched as she slowly opened and closed her magnificent wings, building up strength to give it a try.

Life lesson #2 - It takes strength to change, and to fly. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying. When you can fly, keep flying as long as you can.


Bowie and the butterfly both reinforce the fact that life is short. You don't get long to make your mark or touch the lives of others. I reflect on my own transformation from art teacher to floraliste. I'm a bit Bowie and a bit butterfly. Driven by the need to change and create. Almost out of the cocoon and I want to fly. The flowery part of my life gets busier by the day, and it truly feeds my soul. Bouquet orders, weddings and bookings for more weddings, and now a steady stream of funeral work - the greatest privilege and pleasure of all that I do. It hasn't always been easy, making this change, but it's been so worth it. And what's more, there's a wonderful trip to Europe to look forward to very soon. Watch me fly!

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