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.

"The Butterfly"
by Reuben Strayer

written on December 18th, 2002, the day he put his motorcycle into storage for the winter.