The day's challenges pull on me, cutting my height an inch or two. I put on some gloves, step outside and sit on a bench. The backyard of my suburban house is quiet, and I close my eyes and tune in to the softer sounds. All I hear is an old Mercedes diesel, so I open my eyes, and then I see it. Endless orange and black wings, the last monarch of winter, perched magnificently, motionless on a thorn. He looks at me, and I at him, each wondering what the other is thinking. He takes a drink from a dewdrop on a rose petal, and descends in the whimsical, ecstatic flight of an animal recently a caterpillar. He flutters about in seeming uncertainty, until our neighbor's milkweed releases a downy tuft into the air. With new direction and strength, the butterfly clutches his bounty and presses it against his torpedo-shaped thorax. And now he takes to the heavens, in chaotic motions that send him toward the setting sun. His flapping wings wave farewell, but I know I will see him again, when the days are warmer and longer.
written on December 18th, 2002, the day he put his motorcycle into storage for the winter.