By Joyce Ecochard, Brant Beach, 2001. Digital illustration by Kaitlyn (Joyce’s granddaughter)

The beach was calling me on a balmy October day. I arrived shortly thereafter, carrying my folding chair, visor, and magazine. After following a well beaten path through the dunes, I sat on a slight hill overlooking the glorious ocean. The air was sweet, the sun strong, and the bright light instantly warmed me as I settled down beneath the sharp blue sky.

I leaned my head back, a calm feeling enveloped me – I did not have a care in the world. I kicked off my sandals, and every muscle in my body simply melted. Small movements caught my eye: a sailboat on the horizon, gulls gliding low, and a man with his dog. Then – I saw the butterflies, lots of Monarch butterflies! They were gathering among the wildflowers on the dunes and migrating down the coast. A few fluttered around me, nearly landing on my nose. I watched mesmerized as they went about their business, seemingly unaware of my presence.

I walked down to the water, which still held the summer’s warmth. As I waded in ankle deep, around one hundred butterflies flew over my head in single file heading south. I lifted my sunglasses and gazed at them in delightful disbelief. Orange, yellow and black, the monarchs danced over the waves – their movements depicted joy and happiness. I felt as if I had been caught up in the air with them – flying free!

After a while, I went back to my chair and sat down. The magazine I had placed in my lap remained unopened. It was a day at the beach that will forever be etched in my memory.

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