Having been holed up beneath a roof all the cloudy morning, when the sun broke through I took a turn around the yard and garden. Right off the office steps I got flutter-swooped by a monarch butterfly. Once when we were children on the farm we woke to find the white pine in our yard saturated with monarchs in migration. It was a wonder with staying power. I hold it in memory as a miracle.
Next, while running mundane errands I heard a radio advertisement for a plastic surgeon purveying multiple means of trimming, tucking and smoothing pretty much everything but your toenails. Fair enough, and here at half-past 50 the images in my bathroom mirror have fostered compassion in my heart for those who do seek certain resets. The radio spot concluded with a declaration that submitting to this surgeon’s rejuvenating tools would render me “younger and more relevant.”
I drove a good half block before that word relevant registered. They just kinda laid it in there smooth-like and I skated right over it. But jeepers: Relevant? As leverage goes, that’s a little hinky. A few hours later I was still turning it over in my head. I couldn’t quite figure why it was working me like a sand grain in my shoe. Among the factors impairing my relevance, I figure a loosening jawline doesn’t even make the top 50. And yet still I was bugged. Then I saw my daughter skip across the yard and I imagined her hearing that a surgical do-over was the key to relevance. Or her well-lined and well-loved grandmother being told the same. I found myself toying with the idea of scheduling an appointment just to give the surgeon an opportunity to expand on this line of thinking.
Then late last night I got into one of those earworm-wormhole situations involving YouTube algorithms and old country music. Wound up watching Don Williams videos and missing my daughter’s great-grandma, a Bible-studying woman of rectitude who believed Mr. Williams was the best country singer ever. Eventually Don Williams ran out and I was served up Willie Nelson singing “It Gets Easier,” then Willie Nelson singing “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain,” accompanied by his adult sons. These are recent Willie. Singing from a chair, not a stage. On “Blue Eyes” he looks frail, content and centered. His face is a worn leather treasure map, as was Grandma’s by the end. Who would yank the wrinkles out of either and consider it a victory for relevance?
As have many folks of late, we have taken to leaving our milkweed patches to thrive in hopes of bolstering the monarch population in face of recent declines. Based strictly on observation, Sunday dinner conversation up north, and last Thursday’s debriefing conducted roadside over the recycling bins with my neighbor Denny, general consensus has it this is a good year for monarchs. I hope so. I have also noted honeybees in our sunflowers, so hang in there, apiarists.
Reconstruction can be resurrection. Even if it’s something short of that I have no quibble, and in short, it’s none of my beeswax. But relevant? Let’s reserve that for the real deal — in this case my daughter, hand in my hand, our faces to the sun as the butterflies rise.