"I only ask to be free" says Harold Skimpole in Bleak House. "The butterflies are free." Dickens's character meant "free" in the sense that these insects are able to fly where they will. But there is another sense in which butterflies are free: it costs us nothing to enjoy their beauty.
We are emerging from years in which many of us became expert in the price of things but paid less attention to their underlying value. Recession has forced a rethink in many respects, not least in how we spend our leisure time.
That is why we would encourage our readers to take part in The Independent's Great British Butterfly Hunt this spring. What better way to explore the fabulous natural wealth of our countryside? And, remember, this is not a pursuit which requires expensive equipment or costly training. After all, the butterflies are free.