I used to lifeguard in the serious Texas heat on Lake Travis in Austin.
For eight hot, humid hours a day, I would sit with bated breath waiting for the next drunk guy to pass out in the 85-degree lake. I’m proud to announce my instincts never left me, as I quickly found out while watching my clueless friend sacrifice an injured Monarch Butterfly to the stormy ocean’s cold depths at Cotton’s point on Veteran’s day.
I didn’t have a chance to remain stoic for this particular event; my fervent girly instincts passionately kicked in while the butterfly floated helplessly at the surface.
“You can’t do that!” I exclaimed, scooped up the injured insect and proceeded to paddle with one arm to shore.
Though my paddle was a slow one, I would occasionally stop to check the oncoming shore break, pausing only to protect the bug and myself from a shore-pounding. Fortunately, the gods were smiling and no set waves came through. The gods weren’t the only ones smiling, though. As I peered back to the lineup, dozens of smiles and sympathetic laughter penetrated through the hazy air as I hobbled to shore, butterfly intact.
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself, too.
Not only did the butterfly get a VIP rescue, but also a nice bush to live (or most likely die) in. Made it this far, might as well go the extra mile for the poor bug.
As I paddled back out, I was welcomed with obligatory teasing which later evolved into sweet compliments along with my acquiring the nick-name "Madame Butterfly."
The swell was quickly fading and the indecisive, scattered rain clouds were slowly approaching the horizon, which left for plenty of time to stare off into space and let the tide take me down the beach. While blankly staring at my plain white board bobbing in the choppy wind swell, it dawned on me: Now I need a butterfly painted on my board!
Sure, it’s cheese balls, but it sure would mean something to me. And I figured that anyone who wants to make fun of my girly decorative choice will have to chase me and my butterfly board down the line to get my attention.
Immediately, I thought of my good friend She works with paint pens as well as many other different mediums on boards, canvas and anything else imagineable. She has a firm grasp of surrealistic style, which is what my mind conjured for the butterfly on my board, although, I liked the idea of leaving the artistic creativity to her professional judgement.
“A few years ago, 80 percent of boards I painted were brand new boards and 20 percent were people trying to jazz up their old boards” said Ritts. “But now it’s the opposite, most people want to add color to their old boards.”
And not only did she add color to my board, she left me bursting with ear-to-ear smiles.
Now my butterflies and I can get barreled together, sans shore break.