Our dogs, like us, enjoy the coming of spring, marked by the arrival of the swallowtails. Gandy thinks the first part of the butterfly name implies an imperative verb. Tsuga believed them to have magical properties.Â Â
Tsuga–who would have celebrated his 10th birthday in about a month–was not interested at all in the Tiger Swallowtails on a cloudy day. One could fly just in front of his face, and he yawned. But on a sunny day, the chase was on. Except it was not the butterfly but its shadow he followed. And where he lost the trail, he dug, just knowing that the shadow had burrowed underground. Our lawn was channeled this time of year with dug-out butterfly bunkers.Â
Gandy, as I said, thinks swallow means grab a mouthful of them. And with the puddling behavior that aggregates a dozen or more butterflies at a single seemingly-unremarkable spot on the driveway or road bed, coming away with a mouthful is not that hard for her. (Still, I have to think she is disappointed that they don’t taste like their namesake.)
And so she’d leapt at a gaggle of swallowtails heading away from us, and then proceeded down into the creek bed. As she started up the other side, she lifted her head, and opened her mouth. And one at a time, yellow swallowed-tails fluttered to freedom in a celebratory fashion, the dog oblivious. All in a country dog’s late spring day’s work.