In early March I hit the wall with winter. I mean, slammed into it; just a full head-on collision. I was shoveling our walkway for the 981st time in the last few months and I wanted to just throw the shovel into the woods. I was finished feeling cold and moving snow. Even my young son, Calvin, seemed ready to be done with it. He’d shrug his shoulders nonchalantly at the prospect of another chance to go sledding, as if to say, “Are we really still doing this?”
Which is why one Tuesday afternoon the two of us headed south from our home in New Hampshire, to Deerfield, Massachusetts, and Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens. Sure, the butterflies and plants and expansive conservatory were all a draw, but the real selling point was that inside that conservatory was a steady 80 degree temperature. T-shirts and bare arms that hadn’t seen the outside in four months would suddenly get reintroduced to the world.
Our visit did not disappoint. We shed our coats. We saw flowers. Big turtles. And of course thousands of butterflies. I felt about as liberated as Julie Andrews’s character Maria as she danced and sang in that big field in The Sound of Music . The greenhouse was suddenly alive with a father and son who were absolutely giddy to be away from the snow and ice.
Magic Wings is made for meandering. Curving paths take visitors around and through the conservatory. But where you stop and sit (there are benches throughout the building) is up to you. Maybe you’ll take a few minutes to gaze at the koi pond like we did. Or perhaps it’s the orchids that prove to be the most intriguing. Or maybe — and you wouldn’t be the first — you just want to keep leisurely walking as butterflies dance and flutter around you. We did all of that. We stopped and gazed, then moved on again. At one point Calvin was transfixed by one of the conservatory’s multicolored lizards that made its home in a big glass case. As he peered and wondered, I took a seat under the gazebo and stretched out my legs. I could have taken a nap.
I’m sure I’m not the first winter visitor to feel that way. Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens first opened in 2000 and today it features a sprawling glass conservatory totaling more than 8,000 square feet. There’s a pond in the middle of the building, stocked with large koi, a big fieldstone fireplace that runs during the winter, and a wide collection of flowers and trees. And when you’re done with all that tropical beauty, there’s the appropriately named Monarch Restaurant, as well as a pleasant gift shop catering to every level of butterfly fanatic. Which is hard not to become at this warm weather oasis.
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens. 281 Greenfield Road, South Deerfield, MA. 413-665-2805; magicwings.comThis post was first published in 2014 and has been updated.