“The fairies are going to a party. It’s at their friends house in the woods. They are going to fly there. There’s berries in the tree. They are going to pick some to bring to their friends house. There’s a chrysalis on the tree. A butterfly will come out. ” Sofia, age 4
Did you know that about 5 times a year Monarch Butterflies are born, and live only long enough to reproduce, about 3 weeks, with one exception. Monarchs who are born East of the Rockies, during the end of August (that’s when my birthday is too, coincidently) are called to fly to Mexico, to the state of Michoacan.
They’ve been spotted flying 7,000 feet high. When they arrive, they cluster, millions upon millions. I’ve seen pictures. My friend Tina went, and yes, it is definitely on my have-to list. This one group of Autumn Monarch butterflies, live 9 months. They begin their journey to Mexico in September, and in February and March, they mate and then start their return flight. They search for milkweed in Texas and lay eggs. It is their great grandchildren who return to the DC area.
If we are to share the ancient beliefs of Mexican people, then we believe that Monarchs carry the souls of our ancestors. If you have ever raised Monarchs, and have witnessed the transformation of the tiny little egg, into a caterpillar, into a chrysalis, and then observe the metamorphosis with your own eyes, then you are a person who believes in miracles and the unimaginable.
You also know, in your heart and soul, that if you bring this to a classroom of children, that you are doing important work. Who knows what longing, what possibility, what love, or what passion might be stirred?
I spent two days at Anacostia Park attending The Monarch Teacher Network. During that time, I made netted cages, learned how to spot a monarch egg the size of a pin head on the underside of a milkweed leaf, and used a paperclip to unroll the proboscis of a Monarch so that I could feed her or him juice from a plate. I washed the juice off their feet, and I learned how to tag their wings. I was moved by the organization’s commitment and love for connection and relationship. They created meaningful interactions and discussions about life, sustainability, and migration.
I am now poised and ready to find and bring these tiny eggs into the art studio, where young hands and eyes will help nurture, usher and release powerful butterflies to fly 7,000 feet in the air and thousands of miles to Mexico, while cradling, I’m sure, many souls.
I saw a bumper sticker last week. It made me smile.
It read: Those who can, do.Those who can do more, teach.