Thursday, January 29, 2009

Samantha and the Butterflies

It was early Spring 1993 and California had just come through an unusually wet rain season which had been preceded by drought years. Wildflowers were abundant and the wild grasses were high. I was outside one afternoon when I saw butterflies, lots of them, and all flying from south to north. I was fascinated because I had never seen so many at once. They came on and on, fragile wings carrying them northwards.
Due to the conjunction of drought and then heavy rains, and temperatures being just right, there was a rare mass hatching of the Painted Lady butterflies. They hatch out in the desert of extreme Southern California and northern Mexico, then fly northwards. There were not just thousands of them, but 100,000's of them. This was truly a once in a lifetime event. The entire migration lasted a little more then a week.
On a sunny afternoon, at the height of the butterflies, I got my good gelding Cloud Dancer and saddled him, then got the coming 2 year filly, Samantha to pony with us. I had been taking her along since she was a weanling. Once we were away from home, I turned her loose to run and romp and follow along. With no vehicle traffic on the back dirt roads or the creek bed, this worked very well.
We were up on a high ridge, in a big open meadow when we found ourselves in the midst of a heavier then usual clump of butterflies. Samantha was about 30 feet from me and I saw her through a cloud of butterflies. It was one of those shining golden moments that will remain in my memory.

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