Common Blue

Common Blue

‘We got to Calais and I said, which way, left or right?’

Inspired by a friend recounting a recent trip to France in their camper van, Callum and I headed out one morning  with the dog along our usual route, with the idea that at some stage, we would take a new turn and do a spot of ‘adventuring.’  Halfway up a hill towards an a old railway line I made the suggestion that we turned right instead of our usual left and go exploring in the ‘dark woods.’  We had a while until David and Alex returned from tennis lessons and it was a lovely day.  Callum was quite sceptical at my suggestion as the dark woods (as we called them) seemed so uninviting, and as the trees were now hiding most of the old gate, it was clearly somewhere where nobody dared to venture at all.  In the hope of  awakening his sense of adventure, something that he had clearly lost following an hour in front the of the TV earlier, I quickly jumped the gate and began battling the undergrowth, following the dog down a hill towards a brook.

So, two Hobbits left the comfort of the Shire, entering the dark wood imagining strange encounters with previously unseen beasts.

Several nettle stings later, Hobbit number two started to grumble that his mother was not like any other ‘normal’ parent and more to the point, it had been at least an hour since ‘second breakfast.’  Refusing to pander to the moaning, I persisted with my quest and finally scrambled on my knees out of a thicket and into a lovely meadow.

A short rest followed, and Callum, on finishing off the last of our rations, started to get back into the swing of things declaring that he had come this way on a nature trail with the school a year back and that not too far ahead of us we would find a rather superb climbing tree.  We headed off across the meadow in search of his tree, all the while looking out for strange beasts and other wayward travellers.

For the last couple of years, Callum and I have been discussing a book in our heads, about a young boy and his dog (nothing new there) and a new land he discovers whilst out on his walk.  We create stories, magical characters and dangerous battles.  Now that this book is gradually coming to fruition, Callum is now turning his artistic talents to many of the illustrations.  Before I start writing the detail, however, I just need to check the Pokémon websites first for any potential plagiarism. He declares his characters are all new but I have my doubts.

Meanwhile back in the meadow I get really excited turning my attentions away from shouting for the dog who, having disturbed a pheasant, had headed off back into  the woods.

Callum, come and look at this butterfly!’

Callum comes bounding across and the butterfly disappears as fast as it can.  Stealth is not one of his strong points.

‘When I was your age I spent all summer trying to catch that butterfly.’

‘That’s an old butterfly then, isn’t it?’ he replies with a smirk.

When I was a similar age to what Callum is now, our house backed onto the second tee of the Ladies Golf Course in the pretty village of Lundin Links, part of the East Neuk of Fife. My friends and I would play all day long in the rough between our tall garden wall and the second tee, trying very hard not to disturb any of the golfers as they passed by.  But that tiny blue butterfly was one of the things I would search for all day, catching only an occasional glimpse. But when I did, it was an exciting moment, and one I would remember the next thirty years.

Callum pipes up,

‘Well, if it is so rare then why are there so many of them?’

I look around and within a minute we had counted over twenty.  My excitement at spotting the apparent rarity diminished rapidly, giving way to a feeling of bewilderment and then to utter disappointment.  One of my most treasured childhood memories demolished.    I cannot tell you how sad it made me feel. My son, however laughed all the way home.

And so we left the meadow, climbed over another fence and walked back in the direction of the Shire, leaving the brood of tiny blue butterflies alone for another day.

I must work on that sense of adventure and knock out that cynicism. I blame his father for that.  Now, where’s that website on butterflies.  I just need to check to see how ‘common’ that Common Blue really is…