Summer Hunting

When I planted the lantana under the palm trees in our yard, I never realized that those bright yellow flowering plants, which grow like weeds but look like sunshine on my lawn, would also prove to be so entertaining. It turns out they are butterfly magnets—a discovery which Bryce just made this past week. We spent over an hour in the hot Carolina sunshine chasing two butterflies around and around the tree, then pausing to watch it disappear into the back yard. Naturally, we had to follow it. Bryce did not grow tired nor did he notice the sweat dripping from his brow. He was having too much fun.

It reminded me of my childhood chasing lightning bugs on a warm summer evening, attempting to trap them in a jar so we could see what they looked like during the day. (They were usually dead by morning!) We never learned that lesson because we would continue the chase the next night and never consider not coaxing them into our jars.

Those were not the only creatures we would hunt, but those intriguing little fireflies were the only ones we could successfully trap. Birds were another source of entertainment for us. We had two methods to ambush our feathered friends, both courtesy of Grandpa (although my cousin Tricia also recalls being taught this by our grandfather. Maybe Grandpa learned it from Papa.)

The first approach was quite simple and required no props except a shaker of salt. It was so easy, was never successful, and was therefore sheer genius on Grandpa’s part, because it kept us happily entertained for hours.

As we grew older and wiser and finally realized how much time we had invested in a project with no rewards, we sought Grandpa’s advice on a plan to increase our odds at succeeding. The second scheme to a possible victorious hunt required constructing a trap consisting of a shoebox and some long string attached to a stick. What we did was prop the box up with the stick, insert some bread inside with a trail of crumbs leading up to it, and then wait very quietly for a bird to take the bait. We truly believed that a bird would follow the trail into the box, then curiously hop inside to investigate and voila, we would tug on the string to catch our prey.

Similar to hunting with the salt shaker, we spent many hours in the backyard, this time lying on our bellies trying method #2, which of course, never succeeded. But we were patient and we were believers. Looking back, it seemed like we were really naïve kids, but you know, it was just part of our lazy days of summer and kept us busy and out of Grandma’s hair!

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