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April 3rd, 2007

butterfly hunter


When I was a boy, my father has one of those all terrain vehicles. He used it to visit timberlands.
I remember a September evening, riding a green six-wheeled green thing with large, knobby tires and an engine that made a raucous noise that could be heard for miles.

That was the Autumn of my butterfly collection. The Summer before my tenth grade year, we had to sign contracts with Ms. Slayton, science miracle worker. So many butterflies for an "A", so many for a "B", and so forth. We made nets out of broomsticks and netting. We were given mason jars of cyanide. I love the smell of cyanide, although I never perceived any bitter lemon.

We killed and pinned and preserved butterflies. But the September I now remember is a while before we made our boxes. I remember riding in an ATV, with net in hand, and imagining what it would be to raise the net in the ATV, and to see if the creatures just flew in.

I never did, of course. It's a silly idea. But there's a part of me that wants to fly through
a power-line cut at 30 m.p.h., fluttering past butterflys, and holding my net aloft.

I still have my box. I threw away the cyanide. I got an "A". I can spot the Painted Lady.
Yet deep down, I wonder, if I could not fly more freely.