It’s summer and memories from my childhood continue to scramble to the surface of my mind. We are at our cottage on Curran’s Lake in Quebec, Canada. Dad came up on the weekends and that meant my brother, sister, and I would be required to work outside with him, often gathering brush.
Dad was a fussy taskmaster and that’s what made our lawn care so ironic and quite funny. God forbid the lawn would look manicured! Instead of mowing the lawn, Dad preferred the sickled look! When the grass reached eighteen inches or so, we’d receive our sickle and off we’d go. Yes, we were very young and a sickle has a very sharp, curved blade. I checked the Google definition: “a sickle is a hand tool and was used before machines for harvesting. The inside part of the curve is sharp, so the user can swing the blade against the crop’s base, catching it in the curve and slicing it.” Child’s play, right? Keep in mind, the lawnmower had already been invented! In the end, our lawn resembled a really bad haircut. But Dad was happy—he liked the cottagey, country look.
After swimming, Ian, Stephie, and I arranged our beach towels on the “lawn.” I can still see my towel draping over the uneven grass until I flopped down and flattened it out. I can’t say it was a ritual, but if memory serves me, we sunbathed after each swim, all summer long. I remember staring at the clouds and finding objects I loved.
A couple of days ago, all these years later, I was sitting out on our patio reflecting on summers at the cottage, Dad and his weekend chores, and beautiful clouds. As I sat there, an exquisite monarch butterfly, barely ten feet away, looked straight at me and opened its wings for a second or two and closed them. It kept opening and closing its wings as if communicating with me or at least attracting my attention, which indeed it did. I am thrilled to have seen a butterfly so colorful and gorgeous. No other interpretation of the event is necessary. However, there are numerous beliefs surrounding butterflies—they may represent a lost loved one or even our souls, positive change or freedom. Without sounding too far out there, I did feel my dad’s presence.