Friday, June 22, 2007

Piece de resistance~

Two days into summer vacation with a recommitment to exercise everyday-- some how, some way-- I set off on my bike. I usually ride for an hour or so, 10 or 12 miles.

I love the breeze in my face, the scents that waft from the roadside, the burn in my quads, and even trickle of sweat that runs down my spine. If I don't breathe heavily and sweat a bit, it doesn't seem like worthwhile exercise. I don't mind the effort, or the sweat.

Today I put the camera in my backpack, and set off for a ride. I often lug the camera along when I go for a walk, because I frame pictures in my mind and always wish I had the camera to capture the images, so I've learned to take it. But I seldom take the camera on a bike ride.

The camera changed the whole nature of today's ride. A ride that would have taken an hour, took me two. Two of the nicest hours I've spent in a long time. I was off my bike as much as I was on it.

There were pictures everywhere, from the huge expanse of cloud-filled sky, to the tiniest star-shaped dandelion fluff hidden under an arch of grass.

And then the piece de resistance: an insect. It's strange how an insect can make your day, or my day, anyway.

In a meadow amid tiny wild flowers, delicate mosses, and poison ivy were milkweed plants with purple clusters of buds still closed tight. And on the underside of one leaf of one plant was a monarch butterfly caterpillar.

This black and yellow striped insect will eat its fill of the only food it likes-- milkweed. Then it will morph into a pupa that will look deceptively lifeless, while, in fact, a monumental change is occurring inside. In due time the monarch butterfly will emerge, and lay tiny eggs on the underside of the milkweed leaves.

Life goes on in the plant and animal kingdom whether humans are there to witness it or not, but I always feel especially privileged to stumble across a microcosm of nature that most likely will be seen by no one else but me, simply because I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Tomorrow if I go back, the little striped caterpillar will be somewhere else, but it was there for me today, and that makes me happy.

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