Yesterday I was outside, writing, and it was a sunny morning but, well, cold. Sitting in my chair in the shade, I was cold.
I chanced to look down, and was surprised to see a beautiful monarch butterfly clumsily trying to crawl over the grass. I wanted to help, but sometimes when you intervene in nature, you make things worse. Eventually Mr. Do-Good won out. I decided the monarch’s problem was that he was too cold to function properly–but I could fix that.
The thing to do is to let the butterfly crawl onto your hand. Monarchs have a lot of self-confidence because they know the birds won’t eat them–not unless they want to get sick. Monarch butterflies are pull of nasty milkweed juice, which they absorb as caterpillars.
Once I had the monarch perched on my finger like a canary, I brought him to a warm and sunny place and got him to crawl onto a plant. He rested there for just two or three minutes, flexing his wings in the sun–and then took off, last seen flying over the roof on his way to wherever he was going. And I felt blessed.
We once fished one of these out of Barnegat Bay and let him rest in our boat until his wings were dry and he could fly away.
Just to remind ourselves that humans are made in the image of God, and therefor capable to love and mercy and grace, here’s somebody who repairs the broken wings of butterflies. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems a saintly thing to do. Good for the butterfly, and good for your soul.
Maybe if we can learn how to be kind to these humble creatures, we can learn how to be kind to one another.
All right, it’s our 40th anniversary today, it only comes around once in a lifetime (unless you get married real, real early and live a real long time), and until cat video time rolls around this evening, I’m going to stop working.
Because it finally stopped raining this morning, yielding to a sunny day that feels more like late September than early August, I was able to do some writing–and a most interesting discovery has been made in the ruins of Old Obann. And my whole marching and chowder society turned out–first a monarch butterfly, then a goldfinch, and lastly a rabbit who gave my feet and chair a friendly sniff before moving on to other business.
I remember one anniversary, years ago, which we spent at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where Patty posed for pictures with an assortment of lovingly-preserved World War II tanks: stood up there in the topless turret of a Soviet SU-76 assault gun like she owned the thing.
SU-76, sans Commander Patty
And was it hot that day! We would have loved to spend more time in the Proving Ground Museum, but the building was not air-conditioned and you could die in there, so out we came.
Here’s another fragile butterfly: this one has survived a cold snap.
Hi, Mr. Nature here, celebrating the wonders of God’s Creation.
What could be more fragile than a butterfly? If you handle one, the wings might crumble in your hand.
But in 2012, crowds of bird-watchers in Dorset, Southwest England, gathered around to see a monarch butterfly with a tattered left wing–a butterfly that could only have gotten there by crossing the Atlantic Ocean ( http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hampshire-19557711 ).
Okay, so he had a little help from the wind. Most likely he didn’t have a choice in the matter. Nevertheless, there he was. Scientists reckon he got caught in the wind, swept up into a high altitude, and blown clear across the ocean.
Monarchs don’t take root in England because milkweed doesn’t grow there and that’s what the monarch caterpillars need to eat. (It makes them toxic to predators.) But on the rare occasions when they do make it to England, at least they seem to find the flowers to their liking.