They remind me of summer vacation during junior high. We had the best 7th and 8th grade science teachers. During the summer they taught a 2-week nature course. Every day for 2 weeks a bunch of us met at the school, climbed onto the bus with lunches in tow, and set off on some outdoor adventure -- studying rocks and geology, visiting a fish hatchery, learning bird songs, running through meadows after butterflies and wildflowers. It's the latter activity that I was remembering today.
Those were the days when we collected everything and brought it back home to be killed (sorry), pinned, and labeled for our butterfly collection. This particular meadow was in the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts, a meadow that is likely off limits to people these days. Those were carefree days under a hot summer sun. We did not worry about ticks, or mosquito bites, or sunburn. Our community supported and subsidized this summer session. It only lasted a few years as I recall, the budget was cut after some adults thought it expendable and unnecessary.
My older brother was growing cucumbers that summer, selling them to the local pickle factory. I loved to ride over in the truck, wait in line to have the truck weighed and unloaded, and breathe in the pickle smell coming from the huge vats of cucumbers. I helped picked the cucumbers, but I more remember the big, fat, slightly yellow cucumbers that I took for lunch every day during the 2-week summer session. I'm sure there were strange looks (we were in junior high after all) as I sat on the bus eating my cucumber.
I've loved meadows and wildflowers (and cucumbers too!) ever since. The bursts of color from black-eyed susans, fleabanes and dogbanes, yarrow and goldenrods, milkweeds and clovers, makes me feel happy. I still feel like chasing after the butterflies, but hold back and instead enjoy them as they fly freely from flower to flower.