Monday, September 3, 2018

The Turtle and The Butterfly

                                          The Turtle and the Butterfly
        By Valerie L. Egar
          The butterfly fluttered flower to flower in the grassy meadow, from yellow goldenrods to purple asters to delicate Queen Anne’s lace. She was like a flower herself, bright yellow with dark stripes, a Tiger Swallowtail. When a soft breeze lifted her, she glided with the current, lofting high into the air and then back into the meadow. Everything delighted her—dew on the grass in the morning, sweet nectar from the flowers, the sensation of flying.
            The butterfly landed on a small rock to rest. All of a sudden, the rock moved and a head peeked out.  “Hello butterfly,” said the turtle.
“Hello to you!” The butterfly fluttered around the turtle’s head, then flower to flower and back to the turtle lounging in the sun.  “Want to go down to the creek and see the tadpoles?  Want to see how big the mushroom under the oak tree grew last night?”
The turtle yawned. “I’ve seen tadpoles for years. They turn into frogs. As to mushrooms, they come, they go, but every year, the ones under the oak are always biggest.”
The butterfly was confused. “I do not understand. What is a ‘year’?”
 The turtle thought the butterfly quite silly. “Too much time fluttering around eating sweets and not enough time learning,” he thought. The turtle explained a year the way he understood it.
“A year starts in spring. I wake from sleeping. Rains come and the trees, which have been leafless, bud and leaves appear. Birds build nests and baby animals are born. Farmers plow their fields and plant seeds.
“Then it’s summer. Plants grow and flower. It gets hot. But, the days start to grow shorter.
“In the fall, leaves turn colors and fall off  trees. Farmers harvest their crops and birds migrate to warmer climates.
“Then it’s winter and very cold. Snow falls. I bury myself deep in the earth and go to sleep until spring.”
Some of the words the little butterfly did not understand: Snow. Cold. Even rain. She hadn’t yet experienced rain, but had a distant memory of something she couldn’t quite explain, something that happened before she was a butterfly. Water from the sky, shaking a leaf, holding onto the leaf as best she could. It was a distant memory, of some other time she couldn’t quite grasp.
The turtle’s explanation of ‘year’ made the butterfly very sad. She had spent more time becoming a butterfly from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis than she would have living as a butterfly.
“How many years are you, turtle?” she asked.
 The turtle considered. “Fifty, with many more to come.”

“And I have one week, perhaps two as a butterfly. I do not know years.” This made the turtle very quiet.
Because the butterfly didn’t have a lot of time, she found joy in every moment. She saw how the sun filtering through dewdrops in the grass made tiny rainbows. She tasted late blooming honeysuckle and felt grateful for it delicate sweetness.  She found a white rose bush blooming by an old house and spent a happy afternoon in its blossoms. Floating on a summer’s breeze, she allowed the wind to carry her where it wished.
She visited with the turtle every day and enjoyed stories about things she would never see. Red trees blazing in a fall sunset. Orange pumpkins in a field. Frost.
“I will not be here to tell my story, but you will,” she said to the turtle. “Please tell it to my children.” The turtle promised.
The following spring, a newly emerged swallowtail butterfly fluttered near the turtle. “I knew your mother,” he said. “You look like her. She liked dewdrops and honeysuckle and discovered a wonderful old house where roses grow.”

For many years after, the turtle’s story grew to include his memories of all the butterfly’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and further. He told stories about ancestors to all the newly hatched butterflies and each one came to understand how much they were loved by those who came before.

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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied, reproduced or distributed without permission from the author. 
Published September 2, 2018 Biddeford Journal Tribune (Biddeford, ME).      
Valerie L. Egar writes Snickertales. She lives in Maine, USA.  She loves animals and is committed to literacy education, ecology and kindness. When she isn't writing, she's reading or sewing. You can follow her on FACEBOOK at 
Valerie L. Egar. Don't forget the 'L' or you won't find her!  

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