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Another Day in the Country

Seasons and reasons

© Another Day in the Country

Contentment with the season seems to be a good thing to master, especially in Kansas. Change is always in the wind.

I’ve decided that I really do like the wind, even though I sometimes complain about it. I’ve also learned to love Fall.

“So much for that hairdo,” I said to my sister when I walked out of the beautician’s shop last week. “It will all fall back into place,” I laughed heading for the car, relishing the fact that my Kansas hairstyle is windproof, “the sign of a good cut.”

Wind rustles the sheets that I hang on the line; they are dry in minutes. Wind blows the leaves across the yard. When someone ignorant of what they are doing to the environment is burning trash without sorting out the plastic, the wind mercifully blows the smoke on by. Wind even powers weather fronts so that the clouds, rain, hail, and snow move on through.

This is the season to enjoy the last of the flowers, along with all the little butterflies. This year, we are graced with thousands of painted ladies, thrown off course by hurricane winds further south.

We always have a few, but this abundance is noteworthy. They are covering every flowering plant in sight, seeking nourishment.

Those painted ladies are probably one of the reasons my sister and I came back to Kansas.

We were in Ramona for a family reunion back in the 1980s. I’d been out for a walk around town when I spied this little boarded-up house on the main drag with a wrap-around front porch and fell in love with it.

Before leaving town I said to my sister, “You’ve got to see this little house. I’d love to get a little place like that in Ramona.”

As we walked around the back of the house, traipsing through shoulder high weeds, we came upon a bush covered with butterflies.

“Oh how beautiful,” my sister cried. “What kind are they?”

She knew that I was the butterfly person. I’d played many more years of those nature cards I told you about last week than she had. Yes, there was a deck of butterfly cards and a deck of trees.

“I think they are called California sisters,” I told her.

Yes, there is a butterfly called a California sister and they are often mistaken for painted ladies — in fact, I’d always thought they were one and the same, but there is a slight variation.

“A California sister,” my sister intoned. “Maybe it’s a sign!”

It probably was.

We came back to Ramona and I bought that little house on D Street. The folk in the neighborhood would refer to us as ‘those girls from California.’

“Those girls from California are back,” they’d say as they watched us mowing and painting, clearing and planting, improving the neighborhood.

In spite of our long heritage in Ramona with great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, we were probably thought of as “move-ins” — anyone new in town, as my Aunt Gertie used to say. Move-ins often didn’t have much staying power. They were here today and gone tomorrow — a little like the fall wind and stormy weather, blowing on through toward the next little town with cheap housing.

“Well, Aunt Gertie, we’re still here.”

When we came, we named our business The California Sisters, in honor of those butterflies that were really painted ladies.

So, when I see painted ladies hovering around my flowers, I bless them for the journey they inspired. Most often, the whole adventure of moving from California back to our Kansas roots was wonderful, even inspiring; but sometimes it was difficult to understand the mentality that seemed to pervade a community of 100 or so plucky survivors.

“A learning experience,” we called it.

While I’ve mourned the loss of the huge Monarch migration we used to see in Ramona this time of year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the painted ladies. And, I thank them for inspiring us to spend another day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 27, 2017

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