Elusive [ih-loo-siv] adj cleverly or skillfully evasive. difficult to find.
As I walked the very familiar path, the word elusive settled in to my mind. Early in the hike, a vibrant yellow mushroom sprouted off to the side of the path. I glanced it, but did not stop to examine it. I heard people behind me, and I was trying to obtain some distance between us. Or did I not want to look frivolous, bending low to examine a mushroom? Silly. I kept walking, eventually branching off to let the rather loud joggers pass. The yellow fungi stayed on my mind. Last night I had photographed one that seemed to be flecked with iridescent gold. All day I kept thinking about my childhood love of the cartoon, The Smurfs, small blue creatures that lived in mushrooms. Perhaps this was the fascination I held with these little golden objects. I am a reasonable person, but am drawn in to my imagination when faced with soft green carpets of moss, tiny stumps hollowed out at the center, and brightly colored mushrooms. Visions of tiny magical fairies fill my mind. Woodland nymphs wearing dresses of leaves and petals. At one point, farther along the path, I considered turning around. Rather than completing the circle I usually do, I could go back-photograph the mushroom, and return the way I came. Instead though, I pressed on. I was not really sure why that little yellow treasure was so important anyway. Farther down the sandy path I came to a patch of pink flowers. I do not know if it was a weed or a wildflower, but they smelled sweet and the soft buzzing sound caught my attention. The entire patch was covered with bees, hovering from spot to spot gathering what they need. I crouched low to try to catch a picture of a flower and a bee-both in focus. Out of the corner of my eye, something larger than a bee, and darker entered my line of sight. Too small to be a bird, I moved my gaze to try to capture it. Barely pausing to land, was a stunning butterfly. Its wings were black and upon a quick look, orange and blue spots were visible. Stunning. I quickly pointed the camera on my phone, but this butterfly was having nothing of it. Off it fluttered and disappeared. Deflated that I had missed the shot, I continued on-replaying its beautiful markings in my mind. As I began the last stretch of open meadow, this butterfly, or possibly one of its kind continued to flutter in and out of my sight line-never pausing long enough for a closer look. I laughed, it was as if it was trying to be elusive. A few steps later, two monarch butterflies danced in the air around me. One turning abruptly and flying directly at me before veering off and continuing on its way. These two also never pausing long enough for a closer look. Elusive. Cleverly or skillfully evading being captured on my screen. Difficult to find for long enough to take a picture. And yet, in my mind’s eye, I see both of these vibrant beauties quite clearly. I love capturing photos of beauty as I go about my day, as I move along the path-but having a phone attached to me at all times spoils me. I can almost always get a picture of something that catches my eye, it is part of my routine. If I do not get the picture, it feels like a failure. How can I remember it? How can I post it? Was it even real? In the home stretch of the path tonight, as the field turned back to forest, I found another vibrant yellow mushroom. I knelt low and took it’s picture. This yellow beauty would not evade being captured on my screen. And then, I put the phone back in the zipped pocket of my pack and hiked on. Carrying with me both images in my mind and in my phone. Both vibrant and real. Maybe the elusive butterflies will come forth in watercolor. Perhaps they will live only in my mind, special and private with the only heart shaped ‘likes’ coming from my smile, or gentle sigh when I recall their beauty and their elusive antics on the trail tonight.