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January 17, 2011 / elodie kaye

Drunk on Sensation

Whenever I move, my perception of effort is swamped for a week or two from an overflow of sensory stimulation.  I’m distracted by the bright sunlight, stark shadows.  The smells are familiar, sweet green eucalyptus, sage and laurel, wet salt and seaweed, but they’re sudden and too strong after months of sterile ice and snow.  My feet patter to a different rhythm on rain-softened clay, and my skin all over is flooded by the movement of air, after weeks of being sheltered under layers.
I keep forgetting to run slow and easy.

I ended my long run on trails at the Ellwood Butterfly Preserve.  Thousands of monarch butterflies migrate here for the winter, nest in the eucalyptus trees, and mate.  During the cold nights, their wings are folded and still.  Massive clusters of them cover the trees and look for all the world like leaves, until the sun warms them and they begin to wake up.  Their wings slowly pulse and open revealing brilliant colour and they begin to flit away from the trees, one and then a few at a time.  By mid-morning there are hundreds in the air at once alighting on branches, stems, and if you’re very still, on you.  They chase each other, play, and soar on the updrafts of sea air on the bluffs.
It’s not easy to remember to run slow.

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2 Comments

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  1. gpetitto / Jan 19 2011 2:10 pm

    I think if I witnessed hundreds of butterflies flying all about while running I’d slap myself across the face to check if I’m dreaming. Not that masses of butterflies is the dream of dreams for me, but wow, that sounds like a remarkable scene!

    • elodie kaye / Jan 19 2011 11:03 pm

      It’s kind of surreal when they land on you. The first time I came upon them, I didn’t know anything about butterflies or why there were so many there. The monarchs are only there in the winter, and if I run later in the day they’ve dispersed. If it’s too cold or cloudy, they don’t wake up. I had run through that grove of eucalyptus trees dozens of times when my timing was wrong — that first encounter with them really did seem magical…

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