Now there is a treat! I have no sooner settled in by the Red River than a gorgeous butterfly lands on my table.

I must study up again on my butterflies. I don’t recall a name other than, of course, the monarch, which everyone knows.

My little visitor is, I would say, the second most frequent butterfly visitor to this part of the country. From that statement, some of you will already venture a guess as to what it is. And her name is on the tip of my tongue, even as I say this.

She is black and white, with a bold stripe of orange across the lower half of her wings, and another bold dash of orange on the bottom edge of her wings. By now you aficionados will surely say you know.

Her body is perhaps 1.5 inches. And now she has opened her wings, and her wingspan is three inches.

She is sitting four inches from my right hand or at least where my right hand will be when I take up my pen. She caught me with my arms folded, and I don’t dare to move a muscle while she is visiting me.

She has half-inch antennae. Each antenna has a tiny black knob on the end.

The pattern on her wings is black, white, black, white with the dominant color being black, from the orange stripe to the tip of her wings. Her total impression is black.

She has delicate trembling quality about her whole body. As near as I remember, that trembling, or at least a suggestion of it persisted until she finally left me. What is that all about? That trembling must consume energy, plus attract predators (or friends?) to her.

Is she nervous about my presence? Surely she must be aware of me, even though I am not wearing any flashy clothing. Come to think of it, I have some bold red letters across the front of my gray shirt. Hmm.

She seemed to drop in, landing facing exactly away from me (good for a quick getaway?) and taking a few moments to settle in. She appeared in no hurry to depart. What drew her in? She had no companions nearby. Was it the white sheet of the tablet? The red letters?

No blossoms appear nearby, although it is a blossom season. On the other days I have seen her companions feast on the nectar of zinnias. The woods appear all green around me, with no blossoms present. Are there perhaps treasures of blossoms that escape my view?

Finally she departs, landing for a few moments on a tiny ash sapling six feet away from me. Then she departs and disappears from my view. Goodbye little friend. You’ve been a treasure.

Four green-winged teal flash across my line of vision following the course of the river. It is as if to say, we will share a moment with a lone Red Admiral Butterfly.  

James Alger, who lives in Fargo, N.D., has been a summer resident of the Leech Lake area with his family for over 45 years. Over that time he has grown to love and appreciate the people and the woodlands of this area.


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