It was a beautiful field. Overgrown with tangled, unrecognizable weeds and small, snaky vines, it became a safe haven for me as I grew older and older. When I was out there, there was no rainy day. The sun always beat down onto the dry, cracked path that my grandpa and I created, ceaseless and unending. Time itself seemed to stop and watch the little six year old girl in messy pigtails and her white haired grandfather coming back day after day.
The summer days were always the best. On the hottest possible days, we would go outside, carrying huge nets, containers, and licking opsicles. Walking the small distance across my neighborhood to the field gave me the greatest joy. When I got there, the wailing of the sirens from the distance seemed to fade until nothing, disappearing with everything I had ever worried about. There was only the quiet left. However, the more I came, the more I realized that the quiet I heard wasn’t even close to silence. Standing in the long grass and scratching the numerous mosquito bites on my legs, I heard the true song of nature. The buzzing of unseen bugs, the sway of the leaves, and the hum of the birds created the perfect balanced harmony.
I would sit there listening, thoughtfully licking the last bit of my popsicle and wiping the cherry stains on my shirt. And then, the real fun would begin. The nets my grandpa and I carried made sense as the last part of the nature harmony fit in. The butterflies. Catching butterflies became more than just a game to us. It was a sport. We would always start off simple, carelessly capturing the foggy, white butterflies. Even with my chubby legs, I got them easily as they landed on the rightest wildflowers or on the ground.
We would carefully place them into the basket my grandpa was holding, where it was already filled with dried grass and flowers. After a while, we would occasionally spot a rarer yellow butterfly. Faster and smarter than the white, it danced gracefully out of reach almost every time we tried to get it, but that didn’t mean we stopped trying. Laughing, my grandpa and I would run until we were both sweating under the fiery sun. We would stay out there at that hastily-made, abandoned field for hours, finding it hard to part. It would be late afternoon by the time we finally were ready to go home, the sun just starting to sink from the newly-born horizon. I would listen the natural harmony one last time, and my grandpa and I would slowly, carrying our basket full of mélange butterflies and the occasional dragonfly, home.
We would open the basement door and come in to the dim coolness, breathing in a sigh of relief at the air conditioner. Afterwards, we would open the basket of insects, and one by one, they would slowly fly out of their cramped prison. They always flew to the open window , where the light was the brightest. My grandpa and I would count our catch for the day as if it were an extremely vital job, sorting each fluttering butterfly out by color. Sometimes, when we had enough time, we would each pick out a butterfly or dragonfly, and take it to the far end of the basement, and let it go, racing to see which one would get to the window faster. I would be rubbing the powder from the butterfly’s flaky wings over my eyes and onto the furniture for hours afterwards, to the dismay of my mom.
But at sunset, when the day was about to be over, my grandpa and I would gently collect the insects back into the basket, and take them outside. One by one, I would release them gently into the air, where they were hesitant at first, but quickly grew in speed. It was an almost perfect image, watching the chain of butterflies steadily fly off towards the setting sun.
This happened for the next two years. Some days, we were too busy to go. And over the winter, it was impossible to go at all. But I found myself thinking of that place every day, that messy, beautiful field. People thought I was crazy for wanting to go to such an unruly place. They couldn’t see why I would want to do the same thing every day, catching butterflies only to let them go. But my grandpa always understood. To us, there was something different in every day going out to the field. There would be a new sight, a new sound to hear. No one could understand the joy we felt of capturing a particularly big butterfly, or just being out there an hour longer, but us. Most of all, we listened to the quiet, and the beautiful sounds that came from it.
I remember clearer than anything else the day the field disappeared. It was only a couple weeks after winter ended, after the snow finally melted. I ran towards the field with my grandpa close behind me as fast as I could. It had only been a few months since I’ve seen it, but it could’ve been years. I needed to see the field again, to let it fill me with the sounds and peace I never felt anywhere else. But when I got there, I only saw yellow. Not the yellow of the small, dainty wildflowers dotting the field, or the yellow of the quick butterflies. Only the yellow of the construction trucks. For a moment, I just stood there. The loud sounds of construction sounded like nothing to my ears. I could only listen to the silence.