Sitting in the back of my Honda Element, tailgate down, in the first throes of spring, the days when I feel being outside every moment will redeem the confinement of winter. I’ve spotted the first butterflies of the season, the tiny yellow ones that appear to defy the laws of physics and somehow conquer the breeze to get where they want. The Butterflies and Moths of North America seems to indicate they are Pyrisitia lisa, with a range from Costa Rica to South Dakota, which I find nothing short of heroic, since the South Dakota brethren migrate up from the south. I wonder if they feel a profound sense of disappointment when they hit Rapid City; perhaps visiting the Corn Palace in Mitchell sets everything right.

Reading a magazine, I realize how comfortable I am there in the back of the Element. That’s in no small part due to the fact I’ve lost over thirty pounds. You never realize how fat you are until you are less fat. Airlines seats, crossing my legs, going to see a movie, none of these require the effort they once did. I begin formulating a plan to sleep in the Element on a trip to New England this summer. Less fat leads to grander delusions.

Winter takes a toll now. Someday I’ll require a lap blanket in summer like General Sternwood in The Big Sleep. Having to watch others drink for the vicarious pleasure will be tolerable, but hopefully my children will cause me less heartache than the General’s. No one tells you how little wisdom you possess when you’re young, nor how unpredictable your thermostat becomes. Not that I would have listened; I was too busy exercising my hubris at room temperature.

I have every intention of eventually moving to a place where spring presides at all times. My lap blanket firmly tucked in, I will delightedly watch the Pyrisitia lista, all of us grateful we dwell far, far from Rapid City and its bone-chilling proclivities.


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