Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

We were late.  For preschool.  And no amount of explaining or rushing around ever motivates my three-year-old to move faster.  Even after I had her infant sister in the carrier, this kid still had things to do.  She wanted to wet her hair with a hairbrush “to make it pretty.”  She wanted to search the fridge for a juice box “for the road.”  She wanted to wear a reversible jacket with the flower side showing.  “Silly, Mommy,” she said, after she insisted I turn the coat inside out.

I helped her down the three steps to our back door and out into our backyard so she could start the walk to our van.  I returned inside to get my infant in her carrier, my bag, and coffee mug.  I walked across the lawn, passing my preschooler, trying to get to the van quickly so I could set inside (what feels like) 100 pounds of cargo.  That’s when my daughter stopped me.  “Look, Mom.  A butterfly.”

“Where?”  I didn’t see it in the garden bed or on the chain-link fence.

She pointed with her hand above her head at the yard light mounted to the side of the garage.  “See? Up by the light.”  And then I saw the orange wings and dark legs.  I would think hanging out in a sideways position would require a lot of strength, but this butterfly made it look effortless.

“You would’ve missed it, Mom,” she said.  We watched the butterfly stand on the siding as if it had no agenda at all but to take in some sun and a little nap.

I opened the door with the remote and lugged the infant carrier into its base.  My daughter walked toward the van taking slow steps in her little black shoes.  She climbed inside, an effort requiring the coordination of all four limbs and a little grunt.  I took a breath.  We would get there soon enough.


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