In The Middle Of A Rhapsody

3 Apr

It must be spring being sprung and the grass being riz. But I am reliving a moment of being immersed in the beating heart of Nature made palpable. So be warned, the prose might get purple and alliteration run riot.

When? The tail of a green winter in Los Angeles as March was about to fall back before April.

Where? A magic oasis known to few. A hilly deserted 9 hole par 3 golf course buried at the end of a track in the grounds of the VA. For golfers it was the best kept secret in town. An open green sanctuary. For 8 bucks you could play all day as much as you wanted. You could skip holes, play three balls, do whatever. And as often as not you would be the only person on the course. When you crossed with another golfer, you shared a conspiratorial smile that said basically “Isn’t this absolutely unreal? Don’t tell a fucking soul.”

What? The migration of the Monarch butterflies heading up the West Coast from Mexico on their way to roost in the trees of Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. And I had walked into the thick of it.

Fritillary flights, airy armies, battalions of butterflies storming from the south and driving north in a mad ecstasy of living. I played to have an excuse for being part of it. Standing and gawking was not enough. They came in flotillas and squadrons, in wavering horizontal columns fluttering over the course. Little black and orange scraps tacking against the light breeze. In the distance they seemed like pointillist gold dots out of a painting that Seurat never got around to.  The front was maybe a hundred yards wide. In height, the wave came from knee high above the grass to a couple yards above my upstretched hand, holding a seven iron.

From being invisible among the trees of the Japanese Gardens bordering the course, they appeared like a host. They were checked momentarily by the tall wire fence. Some chose to squeeze directly through the wire netting. Others simply flew up and over and settled dropping  back down to their preferred or assigned cruising height. It appeared in the watching of them that they were flying in pairs, seemingly yoked to each other by an elastic thread.

They were so many, so thick in the air that they confused your depth perception. And they settled on your hands as you reached to pick the ball up out of the cup. An occasional dragon fly held station above the aerial river. One got drunk on it. The hell with Wordsworth. He can keep his daffodils.

I came back the following day. But the army had passed on. I never saw them in such force again. And I tried. I suppose I wouldn’t have felt the same if it had been a storm of locusts. But it was magic time.

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