E Squared Experiment #2 part 2 – Butterflies

Oct 25

Day two of the Reticular Activation System (RAS) experiment and this time I’m looking for yellow butterflies, as suggested by Pam Grout in her best-selling book, E Squared.

This is mid-October, I live in the north of England, and I’m expecting to find yellow butterflies?


Yellow leaves we can do in abundance. But butterflies? When I have no plans to go out until the dog gets his afternoon walk? When it’s dreary, drizzly and dank out there? When butterflies belong to the summer sunshine? Ha! This really is putting the RAS to the test. Purple cars are commonplace in comparison. (If the last reference doesn’t make sense, you should maybe read day 1 of this experiment here).

So, I settle down to a day of writing, determined not to change my routine for the sake of the experiment but slightly encouraged by the section of the instructions that mentions that pictures  of butterflies are as acceptable in this context as the living, breathing, real thing.  In the spirit of the experiment I draw the line at an active search of Google images and get on with my day – which continues uneventfully and unremittingly butterfly-free.






It wasn’t until I took Bryan (the delinquent Weimaraner) foraging for blackberries just before dusk that I brought any true focus to the day’s challenge. In the fading light, deep amongst the brambles, (one for me, one for Bryan, one for the jam pot), I disturbed a few silvery moths, triggering the inner negotiation which is fast becoming familiar: it looks like a butterfly but it’s not quite, it’s a bit small, and definitely not yellow – do I count it? It’s close, but is it close enough, allowing for the time of day, time of year and my increasing desire to tick this one off as mission accomplished?

I’m proud to report that the embryonic scientist rapidly developing in my left brain had a word to say about that little compromise.


Fair enough, but with faith beginning to fail, I loaded dog and hedgerow bounty into the car and began the short drive home. However, the figurative kick up the RAS* brought about by fading light and matching hope began to bring a few close encounters: the blue and green butterfly of the Harvest Energy logo at the petrol station; a photo of a bracelet decorated with blue butterflies leaping out of the pages of the newspaper; the craven plan I was hatching to produce my own ink-blot image for insurance purposes in case I continued to find ‘right shape, wrong colour’.

‘Oh ye of little faith,’ as my mother, bless her, was so fond of saying,

*(Reticular Activation System, just in case you forgot).


Thirty minutes away from deadline and I’m wandering around the house in a fug, determined not to give in. Carelessly I unwrap a raffle prize I’d won a few weeks earlier: a body puff for the shower, some blue and white soaps and a little book of Angel Inspirations. I definitely need those I fumed, absently flicking the pages


with their total of




golden butterflies –


one on each double spread!


I can hear a good few of you saying nooooooo they’re gold (and a faded, mucky sort of gold at that). They don’t count! Well sorry, but this is MY experiment and, in my head, gold counts as yellow with knobs on. And thirty-three golden yellow butterflies where a single one would have sufficed is abundance above and beyond expectations.

Case closed.
Raffle Prize

Final crop

Rubbish picture – sorry – best I can do!

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