by Heather Spiva
(Sacramento, CA, USA)
Monarch Butterfly (photobucket)
Joshua loved summer because summer was the beginning of all good things; like sunny days, bike rides, no school and sticky, drippy popsicles.
But Joshua especially loved summer because he could explore his backyard. He liked to find bugs and spiders and anything else that creeped or crawled. He put them in glass jars and poked holes in the lids. He watched them move and slide and flutter. They were his treasures and he kept watch on them, every day, every hour ... and on some days, if he was lucky, every minute!
One day, Joshua came across something strange hanging off a leaf of the sycamore tree. It was odd; it was small like a rose bud, but firm like a snail's shell. He thought about how nice it looked, so different; so strangely-shaped. It reminded him of silly putty, but in the shape of a shell from the beach. What what was it, he thought to himself. And what was it doing here? Joshua liked it so much, that he thought about taking it off the tree and finding a home for it in one of his jars.
But he couldn't add it to the spider jar, and all the eight-legged things, because it was much too simple. This thing didn't have any legs, let alone eight. That didn't work.
He couldn't add it to the beautiful ladybug jar, because it was much too dull. It didn't have spots, or stripes, or dots or lines. It was plain and bare. No, it wouldn't fit into that jar either.
He couldn't add it to the worm jar, because it didn't move and was much too still. He didn't think it would like the dirt anyway. This thing hadn't moved since he'd found it. No, not that jar.
He couldn't add it to his cricket jar, because it was silent and much too quiet. In fact, it didn't make a single sound. It was so simple and silent that for a moment, he wondered why he liked it to begin with. What could it do for him other than hang on the tree and wave in the wind?
Joshua stared at it, craning his neck for signs of life. "What am I going to do with you? You are simple, dull, still and quiet. And there isn't a jar for you." He decided to leave it alone and think about it. He was certain that by tomorrow, he'd know what to do.
The next day, Joshua went to look at his treasures. They were all so special, so beautiful, so active, and so loud. And then he thought about the odd one; the one without a jar; the one hanging in the tree like a Christmas ornament.
Joshua went to the tree to see what he should do. But the odd shape one was gone! Instead, there was a beautiful monarch butterfly standing on its cocoon. It fluttered its wings, and stretched its legs and seemed to smile at Joshua, opening and closing his wings in display. It was stretching from a long sleep, learning to move his beautiful wings, and taking in the sunny day.
That simple and plain shape had been a chrysalis! Joshua had learned in school that a chrysalis was the home of a caterpillar; a house for the caterpillar when it was time to grow up. And over a matter of days, it became a butterfly. Amazing! But, and he scratched his head in wonder, in which jar would the butterfly go? Joshua thought about his jars of bugs.
The butterfly wasn't simple anymore, but complicated with a design he'd never seen before!
It wasn't dull anymore, but bright and bold with colors of yellow, orange, white and black!
It wasn't still anymore. It moved its wings, faster than the worms moved in their dirt!
It wasn't quiet anymore. It was louder in shapes and design than any cricket was noisy!
The butterfly flew onto his nose, and tickled his cheeks with its wings. Joshua laughed. And then the butterfly did what the spiders, ladybugs, worms and crickets couldn't do in their jars: it flew away!
Joshua loved his treasures as much as he loved summer. But that day, he found his favorite one: the butterfly, because the simple, dull, still and quiet thing became the most beautiful -- and most free treasure-- after all.