Fathers Day - Victorious Wings
by Selena Simn
girl with dad © PCmi - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.
On pulling in the driveway of our two story house there was a grassy hill covering the lower level, giving the illusion that only one story existed. A curving drive around to the back of the house soon revealed the previously hidden bottom level.
Producing trees that yielded luscious apples and cherries, our backyard was representative of the charming simplicity of the Michigan countryside. The sour green apples had always been my favorite, drawing my cheeks and lips to a pucker. I recall complaining many times of a tummy ache, having climbed the challenge and being too young and greedy to know when it was time to quit.
My favorite time of year was the spring when those trees became oceans of fragrant blossoms. The aroma filled my senses like a fine perfume, and the sight was like that of a painting from Currier and Ives.
Adjacent to the trees grew the most incredible field of wild flowers. I stood for hours watching the dazzling array of colors, happily busy with the sound of buzzing honey bees and dancing butterflies, adding movement to the colors like puzzle pieces searching for their place in the big picture.
In total contrast to the splashy, unorganized field was the tidy garden my daddy planted each year. All the rows stood neatly aligned and although it was dotted with a few colors it was primarily green. Each year it brought forth the most sumptuous fresh vegetables that Daddy whipped up into many delightful home cooked meals.
Daddy considered himself to be a simple man. The hours hed spent toiling with the earth had given the suns penetrating rays plenty of time to darken his skin, blending him with the rich soil. Jack-of-all-trades, he could fix anything from a broken bicycle to the most terrifying of bad dreams. In his practicality he couldnt see the point of buying a store bought net for his "little chickadee" to catch the butterflies she stood watching so intently.
So he took it upon himself to make one. A simple wooden handle stained a deep shade of maple and a hole drilled into one end where the net made of white mesh and wire screwed in. Although it was not as fancy as the store bought models Id seen, I was unaware that it would become the source for hours of joyful entertainment.
Being a naturalist, Daddy would have considered it inhumane to "display" the butterflies, so he made a cage out of a big plain cardboard box, with a screen over the opening and a small door in the back.
Later, I would discover the intrigue of watching the butterflies flutter about the cage, stopping on occasion to unroll their straw-like tongues in to the bright yellow dandelions I had placed inside. After a couple of days I would return them to their colorful habitat in hope of not damaging their chance of survival.
I remember the feel of the net in my small hand. It was large and awkward at first, but in time I became its master.
Like a hunter on safari in Africa I was now adept at catching the speedy little creatures. I was proud as I brought home my treasures; monarchs, cabbages, viceroys, and a few smaller varieties (their names I had to look up in our encyclopedias.)
On one particular excursion a mysterious stranger appeared in the field. My inexperienced eyes had never seen anything quite like it. With a wing span of at least four inches, my young mind was led to believe this had to be the largest butterfly in the state, maybe even in the world. It was so black in color that traces of deep blue and purple shimmer aglow from the reflection of the suns brilliant rays. Swallowtails of two, maybe three inches trailed behind like a dark, billowing bridal train. I stood staring in awe of this entrancing work of art. A few moments had passed when I realized that perhaps I could capture this new and rare beauty.
I slowly began to inch my way forward, feeling the grass and weeds crunching down underneath my steps, trying to give away my attempt at a surprise attack. I felt almost as though I was moving backwards and I was barely breathing. There was no doubt, I would soon pass out from lack of oxygen. Still, I pressed onward, my heart now pounding as the possibility of entrapment grew nearer.
"Easy now," I breathed as I artfully lowered my net. "I wont hurt you," my whisper was barely audible, "I only want to" and with that I brought my net down in one fell swoop. When I peered inside I found - I had only caught the fragrant wild flowers.
Above me fluttered the joker, laughing and saying, "youll never catch me," and after a brief teasing pause the swallowtail took off at an amazing pace. Towards the depths of the field it flew, but I would not give up so easily.
I took off after the open invitation and as I ran I could feel the sting of the flowers and weeds as they struck my bare legs, impairing the speed at which I traveled. The sun was hot and penetrated the skin on my face and my hair flew straight out behind me. The pursuit of my dream was leading me through the labyrinth of which only swallowtails would know the outcome. My chest grew heavy with each excited breath and my eyes began to tear from the brisk wind and the radiating sun. I became overwhelmed with the fear of blinking. The thought of losing sight of my newfound playmate was unbearable.
"Ill get you," I happily screamed after my target, my childish heart so full of joy. I ran as far and as fast as my awkward legs could carry me, keeping my friend in sight until I could not go on.
I collapsed to the ground giggling and breathless, still full of the "thrill of the chase." I lay on my back panting, my net still in hand, sweat trickling down my hairline to the nape of my neck. My head was filled with the smell of the sweet green grass and wild flowers that surrounded me. I closed my eyes to rest and my heart began to slow down from its frenzied pace.
My eyes were still closed when I felt as though a dark cloud had covered the sun; there was a shadow over me and a cool breeze that tickled my nose. There was something strange about that breeze, it came and went as if something propelled it... something like wings! I carefully opened my eyes and there upon my nose sat the swallowtail like a victorious king on a throne. It was then that I swore I heard him say, "You can not catch a swallowtail, a swallowtail must catch you."
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