One butterfly, all-weather please

Jenny Gessaman
An older woman sits on a patio bench back by an intricate yellow butterfly cutout.

Jerry Carpenter displays the comfort and style of her butterfly furniture on an August afternoon in Lewistown. From her jewelry to lawn ornaments and clothing, Jerry considers the winged insect a perfect choice.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

Its wingspan reaches over 5 feet, but it’s not flying anywhere soon. No, this bright, several hundred pound butterfly has found a permanent perch on Jerry Carpenter’s porch.

Any Lewistown resident familiar with Jerry would not be surprised to spot the uniquely shaped bench on her porch. The woman is known for her love of the insect.

“When I was in grade school, butterflies were a school project,” Jerry explained.

After researching various species for her report, the young girl was hooked. The yellow specimen on her deck is the largest butterfly she has, and its bold figure makes up the back of a three-person bench.

This rare steel species appeared three years ago on Christmas morning. Jerry’s beau of several decades, Tom, had gone to visit his father. She was still home, in front of her kitchen window, when a tall silhouette lumbered over the hill.

“And then, coming down, was this huge telehandler,” Jerry said.

She spotted something swinging from its end, and watched in amazement as the telehandler, a cross between a forklift and a crane, continued off of the street, on to her lawn and up the snow pile by the deck.

“It kept coming and coming and coming, into the house,” she recalled.

Snuggled up to the building, the machine finally stopped to set down its cargo on Jerry’s porch: a bench in her favorite color, in the shape of her favorite thing. Tom had contracted HRC to custom make the unique piece of furniture, and delivered it himself Christmas day.

“And that’s how I got my butterfly,” Jerry said.

The piece is an extension of not only her passion, but also her household theme. Friends and family help grow a collection Jerry constantly adds to, and the insect is represented on jewelry, fixtures and art in her home.

The outdoor specimen is a flawless match to the collection, as well as to Jerry and her house. Its size is a perfect fit for the patio, according to her, and the piece is heavy enough that Montana winds can’t move it. Even winter doesn’t diminish Jerry’s delight.

“In the wintertime, it looks so funny to see a butterfly covered in snow,” she said.

Yes, Jerry loves the butterfly, and she loves the person who gifted it. Her passion has become part of the relationship.

“He says that someday the house is going to fly away,” Jerry laughed.



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