Butterflies and Dragonflies

Dragonflies of fantastic proportion wheel and hover like miniature helicopters in the sky, above the clumps of Siberian Aster in pre-formed bouquets lining the highway.  A lone heron rises from the flats and flies away – sweeping grace in motion.

I stop to look at some wildflowers and notice a butterfly that I’ve never seen before.  Then I notice that there are hundreds of them.  They are everywhere!

All right, so maybe flying insects were not the reason I headed into the mountains today, but it doesn’t matter.  I’m here, and the dragonflies and the butterflies, and there is nothing else.  I am lost in the moment.

It took me a while to figure it out.  The business of life in the 21st century with its responsibilities and encumbrances had led to a loss of connectivity.  I’d lost my connection to the earth, the sky – to myself.  I’d forgotten how to be alone.

My first few ventures out in the world alone were tentative at best – laughable at worst.  I’d run back to the safety net that was my cell phone and I’d call someone. I was ashamed of my cowardice.

One day the inevitable happened – that little blinking light and the words “no service”.  There was a momentary bout with panic and then I became distracted by pine needles, pale green lichen and Mountain Meadow Cinquefoil. It was an epiphany.  I began to see the world through the lens of my camera, and the focus in my life changed.

I realized that, not only did I enjoy my own company, in some cases I enjoyed my own company more than the company I had been keeping.  I began to filter those relationships out of my life wherever possible.  I began to make a concentrated effort to spend some time alone.  I rediscovered simple joy.

There is joy in the smell of a mountain stream, joy in the feel of a mountain breeze.  There is joy in the silence, and joy in the solitude.

It doesn’t matter what “reason” I had for coming to the mountains today.

That feeling that comes over me – that quiet calm that settles like a shawl around my shoulders and makes me whole – that is the reason I come to the mountains, whatever else I may find.