fly away home

green leaves, blue sky

Last weekend, Jeff suggested I come to his softball game, not to watch (boring) but sit on a picnic blanket over in some corner and bask in the sun for a couple hours. It wasn't a bad idea, even though I had unfinished tasks on the to-do list and was babysitting a squirming bag of ladybugs that should have been home in the fridge.

Milwaukie farmers market ladybugs in paper bag

So I found a half-shaded spot under a tree and worked on a cotton-linen summer top, knitting round and round, and during breaks pulled out a book or lay down and closed my eyes, shifting the blanket and the beetles as the sun winked through the silk-dressed leaves, arcing west.

picnic-blanket knitting: Montauk blouse in progress

Amid the ambient noise of leaves rustling, aluminum bats clinking, and freight trains rumbling over beyond the highway, I stared up at the sky, my blanket mirroring the blues and greens above, feeling still and warm and content, feelings I've had little of the past near-year. I've known for months than something needed changing, but big changes can be hard and scary (and often expensive), the results unpredictable.

"Big Bag of Lady Bugs" (1500 beetles per bag)

This week I came across this print on someone's wall on a design blog, the essence of which is that happiness—whatever happy means, though we know when we're not—requires change: trying something new, doing things differently, flipping up the routine. While it's unsettling to have life turned upside down by someone else's decisions, when change is considered and chosen (or else embraced), rather than thrust upon us, it makes all the difference between feeling like a victim, rolling around like a billiard ball, or the hero of our own tale, leaving the safety of the village, facing dragons, following an inner quest.

farmers market ladybugs in plastic net bag

The tomato-red, polka-dotted beetles, cute muse of old nursery rhymes, having been bought and sold like little slave soldiers, were released half-frozen into the garden beds a couple nights later at dusk to lap up drops of water on sprinkler-soaked leaves and find a meal, maybe lay some eggs. But I haven't seen sign of any ladybugs in the garden since, maybe because their prey, the aphids, haven't hatched out in summer's full heat (it still being spring) to hide in tiny black dots under the nasturtium leaves while mimicking dirt spray. So the ladybugs flew away, all 1,500 of them. This turned about to be one of those ideas brilliant in theory—a last gift from me to the garden—but poorly executed. Yet as a symbol, an omen, it's perfect. Home isn't here at this house for me anymore—time to find another. Decision made, ball rolling, this time I'm the one taking the shot.

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