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Peter Larson Peter Larson
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Taking Flight

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Life's ballet is not on pointed toes.

Sunday morning I was watering trees. Carrying two watering cans, I walked through the tall grass to the tree circle that overlooks the back part of the farm. I looked down to keep my step and continued looking down to water the mulch around the trees. I looked up.

Thousands of small butterflies were hovering over the field, inches above the top of the grass and goldenrod.

These things do not just happen.

It was beautiful. I saw life as a butterfly: a careening, jarring, vertiginous affair. And I thought of Monarch butterflies wavering all the way to Mexico.

Even as each butterfly fluttered, thousands of them made a graceful shimmering veil over the field.  

Once a month I mow an adjacent field. The swallows come to eat the bugs that jump from the freshly mowed grass. They fly around me on the old tractor, gliding and darting, changing direction on a dime with pointed wings, catching grasshoppers mid-jump.

Their motion is like the script in my great grandmother’s journals: a grace fluid and sweeping.

I had a neighbor who was a glider pilot in World War Two. He flew a two-seater from his grass runway and did barrel rolls and loop-de-loops.  He roared over the farm and we wondered how much he had drank that day, and what the chances were of him hitting the house. We listened to his motor strain arching upward. He rolled and held at the apex for a moment before beginning a slow curving glide.

Life is motion and change. Its ballet is not on pointed toes. Fluttering, arching, stuttering; grace in motion lies in its truthfulness.  

The grace we each find in motion is its gift to us. Its expression to others is our gift to the world.

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