Last week on Ft. Washington Ave. I was nearly run down by a four year old squealing with joy: Butterfly! Butterfly! Butterfly! she said. Her stubby legs pumped at top speed, making her pig tails jump up and down on either side of her head. The lilacs were blooming. The sky was crystal clear. And there was no reason not to be overjoyed by the prospect of butterflies. Her parents followed behind, smiling and indulgent. Such displays of exuberance are unfairly reserved for the very young. I wanted to throw my arms in the air and run alongside the girl, rejoicing over earth's power to renew itself each spring.
Several days later, I passed the same girl and her mother. The girl had used string to attach two floppy paper plates to her back. They were decorated with wavy crayon lines and cut on one side to make a straight edge next to her shoulder blades. The mother reached for the girl's hand and said gently, Come on Butterfly. The girl skipped along, her wings fluttering behind her.