Posted July 24, 2018 by Kerry McFall

butterfly in field

“Oh! Swallowtail on Teasel”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

There is a moment as I wander along the trail when something enters my field of vision so quickly, so softly, that I doubt it’s really there.  It stops me in my tracks, alert to every smell, every variation in light, every tiny buzz… then, “Oh!”  A tiny bunny!  There at the edge of the trail, ears shyly pressed to its little head.  Can I get my camera out before…. no.  Off it goes, noiselessly into the grasses.  I smile for a long time as I continue down the trail to the bench beside the meadow that is my favorite pew.

Bald Hill trail is my church. The 40 swallows on the power lines are the choir, with just one bird on an opposite wire apparently directing, although they are an unruly bunch.  The cows are the congregation, munching reverently.  Every once in awhile someone passes by with an ecstatic wet smiling dog, testament to the joys of this church, especially the rolling in the creek part.

Last Sunday there were two “Oh!” moments.  The second was at the edge of the big field beside the bike path, where teasels and young ash shoots have taken over from the scraggly hay.  A brief silent flash of bright yellow disappeared behind the purple tutu of a large teasel head.  I tiptoed into the grasses, knowing the folks passing on their bicycles thought I was perhaps just a bit eccentric.  “Oh!”  I was rewarded with the flutter of swallowtail wings.  They slowly spread to full sail, remaining just long enough for me to get out my camera and capture a few shots.  I imagine that the nectar tastes… well, purple!

A couple of days later, I spend hours staring at the photos, sketching, painting, meditating on the intricacy of those wings, remembering that rich grassy smell, the heat of the sun on my shoulders, the clop of horse hooves on the trail.  It takes me back to a moment when I was six years old, sprawled under the maple in my back yard, mesmerized by the tickle of a butterfly proboscis tasting the sticky drops of sap on my hands. ” Oh!”  Church can be in many unexpected places.

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