Butterfly Days


A lot is still in bloom in my yard, though all of us are feeling more than a little jangly and frayed, in that moment in summer when heat seems to stretch as far back as memory serves and there is still endless time for scorcher days with temperatures in the high 90’s and weather advisories, because the heat index pushes them into 103, 107, 110. I put mint leaves and ice cubes in the chicken girls’ water, and I chill down corn on the cob as a treat, trying to manage the misery. Dot has a cool place in the hay room and Spot has given up on the outdoors except very late in the evening and very early mornings.

It won’t be until mid to late October that real relief will come blowing in with the first north winds.

This year, Sherod scattered wildflower seed that have turned out to be especially attractive to butterflies. The wildflowers have grown and bloomed and gone to seed, many of them, and their leaves are spotted and spent now, so by mid afternoon as they droop against the stems, there is no doubt the end of this season is on its way though we cannot yet see its shadow. Amidst all that exhaustion, all that having spent and been spent, the butterflies come.

I noticed today how quickly they flit from flower to flower, how they spend less than a split second on any one flower, hovering, chasing, stopping briefly, on the move again, like they’re restless of spirit, anxious to get as much as possible now. I stood in the garden, camera in hand, determined to snap pictures of them and instead, recognized myself in their hovering, and moving first there, then here. I am restless inside as the summer ends. I went off to Collegeville and came back with my mind buzzing. I go from one task to another, make myself pay attention, make myself finish up, make myself go back and forth between all those things on the list of tasks, some of which matter and some which don’t. I’m back, but unsettled.

I’m reading more. On the way into work, on the way back home, when I iron, I am listening to an audiobook: The Life You Save Could Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, which braids together the stories of Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, with their deep faith and bold religious imagination. That’s when my mind slows down and I pay attention as I haven’t before, to structure, conceits, literary devices that make a book a good read. I’ve read and re-read the feedback I got, and the daily notes we took, the articles our leader recommended. Along the way, I’ve become uncomfortably self-conscious about my writing though I’ve put a few things down, more fragment than whole. Fragile and paper thin, butterfly wings that don’t yet fly.

3 thoughts on “Butterfly Days

  1. Thinking of you friend! Feel much the same abut heat, flowers and approaching end of summer. My zinnias have been great but are now getting smaller and leggier. To hot to be outside long. Praying for a great thunderstorm tonight. Love you and miss you.

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