On My Mind: Too Many Butterflies

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From about age nine through thirteen I collected and studied butterflies. My interest was intense; I might well have grown up to be an entomologist. Each summer I visited my father and stepmother, wherever they happened to be; one summer that meant going to Rushford, a little town in upper New York State, to stay with my father Phil, my stepmother Ricky whom I adored, and Ricky’s mother, Jennie Ballard. Mrs. Ballard was very critical—a mean woman, my aunt Verona once said—but I don’t think she was mean, just outspoken. I was 12, and at the height of my powers as a butterfly collector. I was always out in the Ballard gardens and fields with my net and killing jar (a Kleenex soaked with carbon tetrachloride was the agent that instantly suffocated any insect dropped into the jar).

Posted on February 18, 2018

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