Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chasing Butterflies


This morning is chilly and gray. I gear up for a day stuck inside with the two girls--breaking out the crayons early--but, to my surprise and our communal delight, the sun appears and we escape the house.

I open the door, and my girls rush out, Mari pausing to go backward down the step from the door to the porch, and again from the porch to the walk.

"Chase my shadow, Mommy," Cim hollers immediately, beginning her new favorite game. Leaving Mari cackling and waving her arms behind us, we take off down the driveway and run back and forth, taking turns jumping on each other's shadow.

Mari runs in haphazard zigzags, sometimes in the grass, sometimes on the asphalt of the driveway. She examines sticks, rocks, dandelions, and purple clover, pausing only briefly with each before running on to the next new thing. That's how she's lived since she began crawling at 5.5 months old.

As I tire and begin to slow, I notice small white butterflies flitting about the fields surrounding the house. "Look," I say, holding Cim still with one hand and pointing with the other.

"Butterflies! I can catch them!"

And she's off.

Mari and I tag along, sort of. Mari staggers over the bumpy ground of the field that has not yet been plowed for soybeans or hay. She's in no hurry, at times plopping down unceremoniously to study a clump of grass, or just to whine for a moment and get a hug before wading through more of the grass clumps that come past her knees.

Cim is off in the distance, her magenta "dancing skirt" flapping as she runs, her black shirt contrasting with the  glow of her blond hair in the sun. She runs back and forth, chasing first this butterfly, now that one, laughing and shrieking, and not caring at all that I'm a small figure in the distance.

How easy it is for her to leave me behind, my mind whispers. How easy it is to go from one butterfly to the next, never looking back.

My mind hints that there's a metaphor there; something about chasing insubstantial things and not realizing we've strayed from the path; or, on the other hand, something about how a goal, even one that may change before we get there, can help us travel farther than we ever would have dared otherwise.

But today, she's small, and so far from those important life decisions for which a metaphor might be useful; as for me, my mind is fuzzy with warmth and light. It's spring. Summer and fall will come soon enough. I'm not going to question it today. Today I'm going to chase butterflies.

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