In a Butterfly Meadow, I Find my Peace

What needs to be done at the new house?

  1.  Clean the deck
  2. Repair the deck’s steps
  3. Mow the lawn
  4. Weed the gardens (lots of gardens)
  5. Finish setting up the office
  6. Ship boxes into the attic
  7. Repair the broken window in the attic
  8. Replace/add to the insulation in the attic
  9. Add insulation to the under-side of the house
  10. Do paperwork for new job
  11. Start designing curriculum for new classes
  12. Clean interior of the house
  13. Do laundry
  14. Pay bills

I hate to-do lists.  I try to knock something off the list and nothing really gets done because other work came about and I had to do that stuff first.  Which means today’s to-do list isn’t finished and when I try to add it to the next day’s to-do list, well, that not’s nothing more than a worm hole into depression and anxiety.  No thank you.  I don’t do to-do lists.  I just panic at times.

Trust me.  It’s just better that way.

I had a massive to-do list.  I have even more things to complete but I can’t think of them.  I’m too busy writing this to walk around the house and mentally tally all the things that I need to do.  What’s worse is that some of the tasks are well outside my ability which means research and learning is involved…but I don’t know that I have the time to do the research.

Yesterday, I registered my daughter in her new school.  We selected classes for her and she opted to try and earn her associate’s degree as she completes high school classes.  We thought it was a great deal.  We thought it wouldn’t be that different from the high school curriculum.

And we were right.

And we weren’t.

She wanted to take a theater class, an art class.  But to ensure that she would be eligible for the program, she has to take an extra math class.  Two French classes (her school is on a four-by-four program in which she takes four classes one semester and four in the next).

The despair set in as we loaded into the car.  Likely no electives.  Just a lot of work.

Not an auspicious way to start a new school year.

She and I came home.  We packed a backpack with peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.  We filled Nalgene bottles with ice water.  We grabbed Leia, loaded into the car, and drove west into the mountains.

I’m about thirty-five minutes from the mountains now.  Before, I was at least an hour and a half.  To shave off so much time is a blessing, and I’m in need of blessings right now.  With my to-do list being so long and my summer vacation down to 13 days, I need a few extra blessings at this point.

We drove through undulating countryside, past horse farms, and through old towns that have a nostalgia mortared into the old brick buildings.  The temperature fell as we rose in altitude, and then we pierced through the humid mist of an early afternoon thunderstorm.

We entered Shenandoah National Park and drove along the ridge, searching for our adventure.  We weren’t ready for heavy duty hiking.  I had put on weight and hadn’t trained.  Frankly, my daughter hates hiking.  We were in no condition to hike but in every condition to escape from the frustrations and pains associated with moving.

Eventually, we came to Big Meadows and I pulled into the parking lot.  We pulled our exhausted, aching bodies out of the car, and I shouldered the backpack.  Not seeing any real paths through or into the meadow, we walked along the gravel fire road that bisected the sprawling meadows.

Rising from the tall grass, the long songs of grasshoppers vibrated in the air.  In the bunches of milkweed, butterflies rose and tumbled.  Several times, I thought I saw monarch butterflies and my heart lifted.  Two years ago, Owl Singer and I had seen monarch butterflies on our Appalachian Trail hike and I felt the same sense of freedom, of exultant joy from before.

After we lunched under a tree, my daughter and I continued our journey.  We found a marked path into the meadow that led to the forest, and we foraged onward.  However, as the path went from somewhat visible in the meadow to a muddy streak lined by ferns, our fears and anxieties rose.  What if we had to deal with a snake?  What about ticks?

We couldn’t see where we were putting our feet and our uncertainty slowed our steps.  We were both wearing shorts.  I was in sandals, and we felt our lack of preparation hindered our ability to push forward.

We weren’t ready to do this.  We were ready to walk along the manicured path but not this ambling bit of possible-path in the middle of a meadow.  The comforting butterflies were absent.  Everything felt menacing.

Yup, we’re citi-fied.  We’re suburb women who have somewhat lost our taste for adventure.  But we were also doing our best to come out from under the back-bending stress of the last three months.  We wanted our normalcy.  We wanted to find our peace.

I wanted to push forward, to conquer my fear.  But first Leia went back the way we had just come, pulling my daughter along behind her.  A reprimand formed in my throat and I swallowed it back.

I needed to let my daughter find her path at her pace.

As we returned to the fire road, a fawn slipped out of the meadow and into the woods, its white tail flashing.  It leapt into a copse of trees, turned, and stared at us, waiting.  Our voices hushed into whispers, and I took a firmer grip of Leia’s leash.  We stared at the fawn whose tail flicked, and then, after allowing us to take a few pictures, the fawn slipped deeper into the green shadows of the woods.

We started walking back to the car, a thunder storm rolling along the ridge behind us.   The butterflies, oblivious to the heady thunder, continued in their acrobatics.  Another fawn porpoised out of the meadows.  Like the other, it saw us and froze.  The tail flicked and, before we could capture its image, it trotted up the hill side.

As we neared our car, we slurped down the rest of our water, relishing the cold sluicing down our throats.

For a moment, we had our peace.  My daughter’s possible class schedule issues weren’t prevalent.  The to-do list was absent.  My worries and anxieties about selling the house were microscopic.  For this brief time, I was merely Compass Rose in her world of paths and mountains and thunderstorms.  And, at my side, was my daughter, the Pirate Queen, who stood firmly against the storm.




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