Thursday, April 03, 2008


When I was in grade school, I used to walk to & from school through a woods -- my magical woods.

I knew every tree, fallen and standing; how to read every dappled patch of sunlight for both time and weather; what every animal and bird cry meant, as well as how to follow their tracks and stand back far and quiet enough to avoid upsetting them so I could watch. All the self-taught knowledge of a girl who spent her time there. (Yes, this woods also contains the creek I wrote about.)

Every day spent in those woods was magical, but one day, I stumbled into something I'd never seen before or since. None of the nature books I lugged home on my horse/bike had even prepared me to conceive of such a thing -- not that book reading ever could. Not even photos or video can, really.

I must have about 7 or 8, and wandering about as usual in the woods. I turned down a path, heading for a spot to just sit in when suddenly I was in a flurry of orange & black fluttering petal-wings which caressed and kissed...

Monarch butterflies.

They were not panicked, startled or thrashing; they were welcoming.

Hundreds of them, swirling about in the air. And hundreds more covering the trees and brush, like a living, breathing wall, before me.

I don't know how long I stood there. Each minute was as long as eternity -- and yet not long enough.

I don't recall wondering what it was, what it meant or what the monarchs might be doing; I just remember being filled with a sense of awe -- and blessed to be part of whatever the celebration was. And I knew it was a celebration. They told me so.

I don't think I've ever felt so foreign yet accepted as that afternoon under the dancing, snowing, flutter-falling butterflies.

Later I learned this was part of the great monarch migration. While that knowledge made sense, it neither diminished the spectacle I had been graciously allowed to witness, nor added to it. It simply was, and I had been, for whatever reason, allowed to have the communion, the experience.

I don't recall ever speaking to anyone of it. I'm not sure why not... Perhaps it was equal parts keeping a secret gift that had been given to my heart & the fact that no one really wanted to hear the loner-girl's (continual) stories about the woods.

But I've never forgotten that feeling -- though I'd gladly have it again, just to be sure it has not faded over time.

So reading that Butterflies Are On The Brink, that the intense deforestation in Mexico could ruin the mysterious & marvelous 3,000-mile migration of the monarch butterfly, my heart is saddened today.
"To lose something like this migration is to diminish all of us," said Chip Taylor, KU professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. "It's so truly spectacular, one of the awe-inspiring phenomena that nature presents to us. There is no way to describe the sight of 25 million monarchs per acre -- or the sensation of standing in a snowstorm of orange as the butterflies cascade off the fir trees."
Twenty-five million? Even having seen my hundreds (possibly thousands -- who could or would stop to count?), I cannot really imagine it...

At the link you can see more images; but I swear to you, they do not do the monarchs justice.

Today, my wish for you is to be able to witness such a thing.

My wish for the world is that the monarch survive so that our children & future generations may too.
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