242.

There was a gigantic field behind my middle school classroom. It was really just a glorified patch of crabgrass — where the boys would play flag football in warm weather and the girls picked daisies and played softball in PE. There wasn’t much shade, except for an old pair of bleachers under some pine trees, but everyone still loved to run around up there. The edge of the field was blocked off with oleander bushes — pretty dangerous, now that I think about it. But our teachers just made us wash our hands after picking our poisonous bouquets. 

There was one year — maybe 4th grade — when my friends and I were obsessed with ladybugs. During recess and lunch, we would lay on our bellies in the patches of clover (which inevitably meant grass stains on our white polos) and hunt for them. There were hundreds of the little guys hiding between the blades of grass. I’d find as many as possible, and keep them in a small nest in the lap of  my skirt, only freeing them when the bell rang.

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Last weekend was one of those perfect warm weekends in San Francisco. The sunshine and clear skies just begged for you to spend the entire day outdoors. Saturday left me with a bit of a sunburn, but I still hadn’t had enough come Sunday. After putting some clothes in at the laundromat around the corner, I walked 3 blocks to the edge of Fort Mason to find a sunny patch of grass and wait.

I finally settled on a shadeless spot hidden from any prying eyes and flopped down, only to find myself in a ladybug village. Seriously. They were everywhere — slowly crawling up blades of grass and inching up my knees and shoulders.

It was kind of magical.

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