The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Tambralee grew up in the village of Lanse, PA, a small rural town with a population of 396 that is an hour northwest of State College. Because the town was so small there wasn’t plenty to do in the summer, this is how she kept busy. This story is significant to her because it is one of her favorite childhood memories and a frequent bedtime story when I was younger.

Tam wakes up to the sun shining through the window, perks out of bed, and gets dressed in her summer clothes- a white tee-shirt, long denim shorts, and cowboy boots. She walks down to the kitchen and quickly fixes a bowl of Cheerios, her favorite. The dishes clank in the sink and Tam is already out the door with her butterfly net and a Mason jar on her way to the backyard.

The fields on the property stretched for about three acres until they turned into woods and were filled with milkweed, the monarchs favorite place to play hide and seek. The flowers stretched for what seemed like forever in shades of bright orange and pastel purple. Tams boots crunch through the dried grass and protruding sticks scratch on the side of her calves. She moves with stealth and precision in pursuit of her prey.

 Out of the corner of her eye there is a flash. She whips her head around and there’s a monarch bigger than ever before. The butterfly lands on an orange flower and presses its wings together. The black and yellow-orange pattern was immaculate and would make the perfect addition to the collection. Slowly approaching, her eyes never leave the specimen and at one-point Tam swears they made eye contact then whoosh. She quickly gets the net over the flower, being careful not to damage the monarch and scoops the monarch into the Mason jar.

“Mom! Mom! Look what I caught!” she gushes, running towards the house.

“Oh my, would look at that! You got a big one today.” Mom replied

“I know I’m so excited I’m gonna go put it in my collection.”

Tam dashed up to her room and got her display case and needles out and laid them all out on the desk with the organization of a surgeon. This was the hard part, not just technically, but also emotionally. She didn’t want to kill the butterflies, but she also wants to preserve their beauty. Nevertheless, she persisted with her plans. She opened the ball jar slowly and placed her hand over the top with a finger inside and flipped the jar upside down until the it landed on her finger. Once it was on her finger, she slowly pulled it out, and with the other hand stuck the needle in its thorax. The orange and black wings spread out one last time before entering the collection forever.

The Butterfly

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Lanse, PA

Tambralee grew up in the village of Lanse, PA, a small rural town with a population of 396 that is an hour northwest of State College. Because the town was so small there wasn’t plenty to do in the summer, this is how she kept busy. This story is significant to her because it is one of her favorite childhood memories and a frequent bedtime story when I was younger.

Decade: 1970s
Rating:
Recorded by Trevor Foreman on March 12, 2020
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