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  • On the phone with a friend and I see it happen: a beautiful Monarch butterfly flutters past the apricot tree and directly into a spiderweb.

    The fear in the insect is visible in the erratic pattern and increased speed of its flight. The creature is more tethered than trapped as it makes small circles above the web proper trying to escape. A landing would be its last.

    I tell the person on the other end of the call to hold for a moment and I act. I elect to interfere with the delicate balance of nature. I have unabashedly sided with the stereotypical beauty of of the butterfly supported by the equally stereotypical treatment of all spiders as the enemy. I realize that while my actual scientific knowledge does not support the decision, the spider-to-butterfly ratio in my backyard does.

    Freedom.

    I've done it.

    A single careful sweep of my hand and now the winged beauty is free, resting and, I like to think, thanking the giant hand which saved it from certain death.

    My moment of self-satisfaction is interrupted by the sound of tapping from the inside of the kitchen window. It is my wife, pointing down at the butterfly. But there is no butterfly.

    There is only an empty place on the leaf where the rescued creature was sitting seconds ago.

    And our cat.

    Our cat who is resting and reflecting on the unusual flavors of the thing it just pounced upon, ate and swallowed, all in but a wingbeat.

    Mother Nature can be a bitch.
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