Being an academic, I look forward to the long summers that I devote exclusively to my art career. I treat my painting like a job. Daily I get up, pack my lunch, board my old Ford Econoline van and drive to one of my favorite painting locations. It is there I go to work and remove myself from the stress and rigors of life.

On a recent day I woke up and drove to the same spot I have frequented for the last 20 years. I parked, put my folding easel, paint bag and lunch bag over one shoulder and headed into the woods. This was a delightful summer day. These are the days we all wait patiently for throughout the long cold winters and feel blessed when they finally arrive.

As I walked along my chosen path I looked down and there on the ground was a folded fresh $1 bill. I am not one of those people I would call lucky, so I immediately felt that my day was going to be a good one.

I stopped and picked up the bill and put it into my pocket. As I continued to walk I looked for a place to work and when I found the spot that felt right, I stopped and placed my tools and materials on the ground. As I began my drawing I suddenly remembered why I paint.

There have been times in my life when I questioned being an artist but this was one of those times that answered my inner reverence. What a perfect day this was becoming, engulfed in a more than perfect location.

At noon I stopped and ate my lunch. As I was eating, a small mink came running next to the stream, darting and lunging in and out of the water. Minutes later a large groundhog meandered along the very same path. Bullfrogs barked a rhythmic tune that welcomed me to this wooded paradise.

When I returned to my painting, something akin to a spiritual experience took place. As I stood and painted, I placed my right hand in the air and suddenly a large monarch butterfly landed on my finger. It was there that he sat for several minutes, seemingly attempting to impart a secret of great importance.

As I finished painting for the day, I continued to think about the butterfly and what it had meant. As I was walking to my van, I was convinced something very important or magical had happened to me, but I wasn’t sure what.

For days I very selfishly refused to share my butterfly experience with anyone. Then I ran into an old friend and suddenly felt compelled to share my story with him. He very intently listened to my story. He then cocked his head (all the time looking very pensive) and said, “That wasn’t a spiritual experience. You probably smelled pungent, and the butterfly thought you were just another form of wildlife.”

— Special to the Telegram