Posted by: ktzefr | May 11, 2010

The Monarchs are Coming: It’s Butterfly Magic

Nobody knows when they go or how they know to come back.  They just do.  Spring comes, the flowers bloom, and the butterflies appear like magic.

“I wish I could be like a butterfly,” I say.  “I’d like to come and go like magic.”

Like Chili Mahoney, my narrator in To Come and Go Like Magic, I’m amazed by the monarch migration.  From the US to Mexico in the fall; from Mexico to the US in the spring.  I’ve flown from here to there and found it a bit exhausting at times with nothing more strenuous than fastening a seat belt and opening a good book.  So I think, if I were a tiny, fragile creature like a butterfly, I’d stay put in the sunnier climes.  It’s a long haul across the Gulf and to points beyond.

Butterflies and Flowers

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I saw my first butterfly of the season last weekend.  It felt like a belated March here — cool and clear with 20+ mph winds.  The butterfly was at a distance, being tossed about in a strong gust through the branches of the beech tree, but somehow it was able to stay aloft, right itself, and fly away during a lull.   Strong northerly winds can quickly propel the butterflies from Texas to Tennessee, Oklahoma to Maine.  Already this year they’ve been spotted in Canada!

You can click HERE to follow this year’s migration.  Learn how to create a monarch habitat, read about Mexico’s butterfly sanctuary region, and see what conservation measures are being taken to support the monarchs.  One page, Journey North for Kids, has loads of activities, videos, pictures, and stories about the monarchs.  Below-freezing temperatures and extensive flooding in some of Mexico’s mountain towns this past winter were disastrous for the local people, and scientists still are not sure how these extreme weather conditions affected the butterflies.

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From my perch at the computer I have a bird’s-eye view of butterflies, a myriad of wings and colors — orange ones from Malaysia, yellows from Africa, whites from South America, and blues from Australia and Timor.  My butterflies are captured in lucite.  Raised in controlled settings and rescued at death, they are sent to Puerto Rico where they magically come to life, like a painting with real wings.   Click and see The Butterfly People of Old San Juan.


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Pics and poetry…

Jalal al-Din, known as Rumi, was born in 1207 in northern Afghanistan.  It has been said that his poetry and images bring the sacred and the earthy together in startling ways.  The butterfly, as a symbol of new life, does the same.  Here I put them together — some favorite Rumi quotes, some favorite pics.


“…darlings of spring/journeying from gardens/begin to arrive/one by one/living their destiny/in this world…”


“A spring wind moves to dance/any branch that isn’t dead.”


“If you are the lamp of the heart, know where the /road is to the house…”


“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you./Don’t go back to sleep.”


“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to./Don’t try to see through the distances.”


“If you can only reflect/like a clean mirror/you’ll be that magical spirit…”




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