Monday, September 18, 2006

Monarch Migration

The pull of the Earth seems to tug the sky closer. What once seemed out of reach as it crossed the wide blue now seems just a flick ahead of my outstretched hand. A chorus distracts me from my silent friend and my eyes are drawn higher to that telltale V as it moves with intense purpose, perhaps headed to a destination not far from my friend here.

Its parents’ parents came north last spring, bringing with them that surge in me that cries: “Plant a flower garden so they’ll stay!” And now the same surge comes forth in me as my mums popcorn burst into bloom. But our friend can’t stay. It must find others of its kind.

My Kindergartener, himself a victim of seasonal migration, waits for the school bus. His eye is trained now on the flitting, floating, flamboyant flounce as it crosses our yard and rises on a breeze. He tells me all the science he’s learned these first weeks of school and how, when it’s a baby, it’s called a caterpillar.

Just once I’d like to witness the skies alive with these delicate wings en route to the birthplace of their grandparents … those east of the Rockies to the Mexican mountains and those west of the Rockies to Northern California. No one knows for sure how they get where they need to go, but they were born for this purpose. When they hatch they eat and eat and store up fat in their abdomens to power this unparalleled journey … they are the only butterflies in the world to make such a trip … 3,000 miles in all. In the spring they will begin to come back north, but the baton will be passed through generations of butterflies who eventually will reach the Northern U.S. and Canada.

Just once I’d like to eyeball a feathery cluster of wintering monarchs, wings overlapping wings, sheltering each other from the elements and weighing each other down to keep from being blown away. But ours is a point in their journey at which they are still alone, finding the road to a home they’ve never seen.

The Kindergartener boards the bus … off for another day on his own. Walking up the driveway a single honk pulls my eyes to another group of geese just taking shape. The sky is alive. The sky is beautiful. Nice things to think on a crystal blue September day. Maybe for these monarchs, for these geese, for these students it isn’t about the destination. Maybe it’s just the amazing journey.

I think you have it right......the destination IS the journey! Great post!
I've never seen a monarch migration because I live in the north where they start from, but wow! It must be stunning...and probably just as incredible to see it as an adult as it is for a kid! Beautiful post HoBess. :)
What a cool map.
I love the monarchs. They seemed so scarce up here for a few years, and now they seem to have made a bit of a comeback. I think monarch and bird migrations are the most wondrous thing.
How wonderful it must be to see clouds of monarchs. Nature and magic are hard to tell apart, aren't they?
Here's a blog of two people (Rob is one of my favorite bloggers) who are going to see the monarchs:
The blog is sporadic until it gets closer to the time to go, but I thought you might like it.
OOOOh they are so beautiful.

Great post
I would love to see the Monarchs migration but its unlikely as I'm on the wrong continent for a start. I had heard they were dying out so its nice to see anne-marie say they seem to be making a comeback.....
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