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Nature connection made at River Honoring

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I remember how exciting it was to go on a field trip as a kid at school: the getting out of the classroom, the bus ride to a new place and the endless chatter between seats, the excitement in the air that something magical might take place on this adventure. Those days are long gone for me, or so I thought.

I recently found myself back among the excited chit-chat of kids on a field-trip-bound bus after agreeing to chaperone at the River Honoring event my son’s fourth grade class attended. Once at the river, we unloaded and our group mixed with a steady stream of other kids from throughout our small towns.

The day carried on with our group roaming from station to station – as transitions were announced by brief drumming sessions. Throughout the day I found myself barefoot, soaking up the sun and taking it all in. And just when I think the day can’t get any better, I was pleasantly proved wrong.

Our group was due to leave soon and I was having a rest at a bench next to the station on native and non-native fish. All of a sudden this small gray butterfly lands on my left hand. I think to myself, “don’t move and maybe it won’t immediately fly away.” So for three to four minutes the butterfly danced around, all along keeping her wings tucked up tight. Then she opened up her wings - displaying this soft, almost translucent color quality. That really grabbed my attention. I moved my hand closer to my face for a better look and she flew off. Darn! I knew better than to move, but to my complete surprise she returned to the same spot on my hand. She did this twice more. I was taken aback at how calm and comfortable this little being was with me in a busy clearing with hundreds of children in all directions. As if all of this wasn’t enough, after six minutes or so a ladybug decided to join in and landed on my hand next to the butterfly. I was at a loss for words and even if I had them, no one was even aware of this event but the ladybug, butterfly and me – and now you. Thank goodness for camera phones.

Finally, after a total of about eight minutes a few kids noticed and started to gather. Then my visitors flew off.

As a butterfly symbolizes transformation, I couldn’t help but reflect on the changes we’re undergoing at the newspaper. Wendy Mass, a children’s book author, is famously quoted as saying “If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.” Change can be challenging but also very positive - especially when we view it as an opportunity for growth. The butterfly’s visit reminded me of just this. To be singled out as I was by both the butterfly and ladybug on a day of honor for our water was an experience I don’t think I’ll soon forget. For me, there’s a two-part lesson. A reminder to get back to the simple things that bring you to center. Get down to the river. Take off your shoes. Reconnect with nature, and maybe she’ll reconnect with you. And perhaps more importantly, allowing ourselves to be transformed by change can lead to beautiful outcomes.

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