Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Today, I had a mission. I was out to find an animal friend. During the summer, I had been visited by lizards, Water Cooler Ants, squirrels, birds and most of all, the butterflies. The butterflies had been a constant companion.

When the cold front hit San Antonio, the butterflies disappeared. They floated south to a warmer place, prepared to hide in cocoons and bury away from the winter weather. I knew they would return in the spring, but I still felt an empty ache where their presence had been. There were no more mystical moments, no more symphonies of whispering winds around my ears. It was eerily silent, and had been for some time.

Depressed at even the lack of squirrels prancing around our yard, my walks had become completely devoid of fuzziness. The most I had to work with was some weeds and dandelions, and even those had sharp leaves. The only fuzziness in my December was that of the blanket on my couch.

So I set off on a search for some companionship. I searched through grass, tree leaves and behind my house. My backyard offered up a few worms and several black birds, who I suspected, weren't there to simply say hello. My front yard offered dead flowers and half dead bushes, with an occasional fly or mouth. Around my work, the stray dog had quit coming and everything was covered in cement. The Water Cooler ants had moved away, and the Cricket had silenced himself. Slow slipping into madness, I considered adopting a pet rock I found on the sidewalk. Maybe he could be a creature of limestone, and offer some wisdom and knowledge.

On one of my daily walks, I was kicking about some small pebbles when a flash of yellow flew by my eye. Could it be? My head whipped around. It was!

A bright yellow butterfly fluttered around my head and landed on the dandelions on the sidewalk.

"You're back!" I cried joyfully. "I've been so depressed without you!"

"It's Christmas!" the butterfly said, raising his imaginary eyebrow at me. "How can anyone be depressed at Christmas?"

"Well, I'm not depressed about Christmas," I stuttered. "I was sad that I didn't have any animals to talk to."

"Well, it's Christmas," the butterfly said again. "Do you not think animals celebrate Christmas?"

"Do animals celebrate Christmas?" I asked curiously.

"Why shouldn't they?" the butterfly said. "Humans assign their own meanings to holidays. Sometimes, holidays are greater than humans imagine. Did you know for example, that penguins celebrate Christmas by having a feast of seaweed and salmon?"

"I did not," I said, fascinated. "How do you celebrate Christmas?"

"I flutter through the sky," the butterfly said, flying around my head and grasping the ends of my hair with his tiny feet. "I dance on the wind. Sometimes, I swing on the leaves of long grass and gorge myself on Hyacinthia honey. It's a special treat."

"Don't you always flutter?" I asked as his wings tickled my face.

"Don't you always eat?" he countered. "Just because you do something a lot doesn't mean it can't be special some of the time."

I nodded, smiling. The wide blue sky and sunshine beat down on my face, and I could barely hear the butterfly's tiny sighs.

"It is time for me to return," the butterfly said, stepping gracefully in the breeze. "I will see you again."

Instead of feeling a sense of loss, I felt rejuvenated. "Merry Christmas!" I shouted to the breeze, watching the tiny speck of yellow until it disappeared from sight.

As the wind blew by my ear, I heard his reply.

"And a happy New Year!"