Friday, September 4, 2009

Bluegrass Calendar: Monarchs

Up here in the NE corner of the state, it's full-on autumn.
It's gotten down in to the 40s on some nights. And, it's still (really) just the first of September. Down south (Winfield way) it's about time to start seeing the first of the Monarchs that come through as the Fall harbingers.
Blankets. Big orange moons. North breezes.
That smell (what is that smell? I've always imagined it's a special Kansas thing that is the combination of clovers and smooshed grains and soybeans and ripe humans wearing patchoulil and just a hint of skunk. Mmmm skunk.)
One of my first mass-monacrhings came on an adventure down to the Bluegrass Festival, it was probably early September (and yea, probably half a million years ago). I had my first VW bus (the '71 tan and white one with big letters all over it). John Byers (To this day the best and only VW mechanic any human should ever pick for their team) and about 8 other friends in three other VWs were in one caravan headed south for Winfield.
Somebody's car messed up. I can't remember the details which tells me it was probably mine. We all pulled over and a few hundred yards down on a dirt road lined with over-ripe something (it had started to go brown) we stopped and all got out and mingled.
These occasions of cars breaking down when you're in caravan are seen more as social bonding opportunities more than traveling frustrations. We were deciding what to do next, and probably knee-deep in a Safety Meeting when about 38 bazillion Monarchs descended upon us.
I used to have a picture of John Byers, just about two feet away from me, with butterflies on the rims of his glasses and his baseball cap and shoulders.

The world behind him was mostly orange.
You could hear all their bazillions of wings flapping and making a sound that was like a weak, but very healthy, teeny weeny generator...
For real.
I swear this happened.
It's always made me think that this particular time of year means that soon I'll smell camp-fires. I'll sleep where I fall and wake to strangers bringing me coffee and aspirin.
Don't know that I'll be there in person for this year's fiesta, but I know that the Monarchs up here are just starting to come through and it smells fantastic.


jennie said...

I Love This Story! I have participated in one or two Safety Meetings on the way to Winfield. And Cheers to John Byers, I never knew him personally but many eons ago, my first Winfield ('87?), it was Sunday & we're packing up & OMG outta beer and Eric Sims cried "John Byers!" and sure enough, he saved the day!!

Sue said...

I had a similar experience when I lived in the country. I also had a traumatic experience when truck driving. The monarchs were crossing the interstate. nuff said.

dpoe said...

love this story and monarchs. sure wish you still had that picture.