Sometimes I wonder what magic existed by the tranquil waters of Todd Puddle. Each time I brought a friend to camp or spend the day there, amazing things would happen. There were dragonflies with Theresa (a.k.a. Teesa), stickfights on the shore with Landon, butterflies with Amanda, and there were always ladybugs with me. I realize that none of those creatures or events seem all that unique. After all, winged insects are all around us and stickfights occur all over the world. Trust me, these were entirely different.
On my trip with my friend-since-childhood, Amanda, we camped at my favorite spot and took a few trips to the lakes. On one such trip, the shore line was covered with butterflies. I’ve never seen so many butterflies in one place. I’ve even been to butterfly conservatories but I’ve never witnessed anything like the butterflies at Todd Lake. They were on every available surface with wings slowly opening and closing. A few would fly up like autumn leaves on a soft wind only to spiral back down to the ground. It was incredible. Spiritual. We felt as though we’d stumbled upon one of nature’s secret rituals and watched in amazement. Once in the water, we marvelled at the shore. Every inch of sand was covered in butterflies — a living breathing brightly colored blanket of intense beauty.
With Teesa, there were thousands of dragonflies at my beloved Todd Puddle. They swirled around us as we stood in the water and landed on our shoulders with gossamer wings glowing in the afternoon light. A couple shared in the splendor with their treasured dog (their child) and their love radiated around the lake. We simply absorbed. The dragonflies circled overhead like WWII bombers. I’ve recounted this experience many times and am told that dragonflies are a sign of water quality. They had likely colonized around Todd Lake and were mating. Whatever their mission, they inspired us and we felt welcomed into their world. We enjoyed a front seat pass to a stunning display of color and movement. The dance of the dragonflies I shared with Teesa, remains one of my favorite memories.
Alongside this creek Landon and I had a stick fight. It was terrific. Straight from the pages of every pirate novel or renassiance duel, we galloped over the large river rocks shouting our very best fencing cliches. “En garde!” or “Take that!” and my personal favorite “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die!” Keep in mind that both of us were old enough to have left such antics behind many years before but again… there was something incredible about this place. I wasn’t the only one to feel it , to witness the way we all were transformed while there.
Each time I vsited, ladybugs would find their way to me. In my mind, the presence of ladybugs is a significant thing. I found a ladybug on my scarf while under the tent at my grandfather’s funeral, in my hair or on my hands at each visit to Todd Lake, flying around my much-loved station wagon as my mother’s oldest brother informed me that I was never to contact my family again — that I was barred from the Harts forever because I couldn’t take care of my mother any longer, crawling along the window of my geriatric Explorer the day I fell in love with my husband, on my shirt sleeve the day I married Josh, on the dashboard as we drove cross-country on our first military move to Georgia, and resting on a flower which Josh brought me while I wept on the church playground when I realized that my four foster children would not be mine forever.
There are many journeys in this life and many more pilgrimages of the heart. In those times, we may question every decision we have ever made. Did we choose the right career, path, or person? Are we exactly where we are supposed to be? I am fortunate to be able to look at my days spent at Todd Puddle and know that every anxious hour and wrong turn in my life made it so that I could be present for dancing dragonflies, clouds of butterflies, and even the occasional stickfight.