Saving the Butterflies

As a child I found a cocoon... 

I put it, along with the stick upon which it grew, in a jar with holes in the lid.  I watched it for days.  Then the butterfly started to emerge.  I carefully took the stick-with-almost-butterfly out and put it on a limb of a tree.  The butterfly’s wings were wet and wrinkled – not ready to fly.  The ants on the tree took full advantage.  It was a horror show.

In the 1980’s we went to San Francisco to visit and stumbled upon this poster of the alphabet in butterfly wings. At this time in history everything was moving forward. Yuppies abounded.  Accessing the best things in life was accepted as a right.  Economies reflected excess. And butterflies created a poster that meant something to our world.

A poster we found in San Francisco

A poster we found in San Francisco

More than a movie

Flight of the Butterflies in 3D and at the IMAX where big, big butterflies fly out of the screen at you.  It’s a natural history epic. It’s a compelling detective story. It’s a scientific adventure at its best. It took Dr. Fred Urquhart almost 40 years to discover the monarch butterflies’ secret hideaway and prove the most incredible migration on Earth. Following the year-long annual migration cycle of the butterflies, the award-winning production team filmed hundreds of millions of monarchs in their remote overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2011 and again in 2012 and also along their migratory routes from Canada, across the U.S. and into Mexico. The technology of IMAX® immerses you in the astounding migration experience as two generations of the butterflies migrate north and then a Super Generation miraculously finds its way from Canada to a few isolated mountaintops in Mexico – to a place it has never been! 

And we’ve all been invited to Mexico to witness this journey.  Actually the president of Mexico invited us via a Youtube video.

President Calderon says, “The journey of these extraordinary creatures is a symbol of how we are all interconnected and interdependent across this continent.” 


To celebrate the talented composer Laura Phelan’s anniversary of birth, we visited the Cockrell Butterfly Center in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

A Rice Paper Butterfly landed in the palm of my left hand.  The butterfly and I looked at one another for about 3 minutes.  And then I realized we must part.  There was no place in this world for a relationship with a butterfly in your hand.  The beautiful butterfly will fly and I will walk and we will remember a moment shared.  Then I laughed.


The day before our annual Epiphany Party on January 6th, there was a lovely Swallowtail Butterfly outside the back door.

We humans knew the weather was supposed to dip below freezing the next day and we hoped the butterfly also had access to this information.  Each time we passed her, we suggested a hasty and immediate departure for places south.

Unfortunately the next day arrived after a frigid night of frost and freeze and we found the lovely butterfly on the ground, semi-frozen.  We took her into the warm kitchen and she returned to life– after a few hours and fully resurrected she flew around the kitchen and later that evening  attended the party as a guest of honor.

We fed her honey and named her Honeytime.  Alas, her time here was over and later that day she left the winged body for one without a heart, a head or a needed sense of direction.  She flew without wings.

Why should we care about saving butterflies? 

Because they belong here.  Because they represent the challenge of change and the inherent structure of meaningful metamorphosis.  They inspire transformation. They are fragile and real.  They are free to fly. To be.  

No one tells them when to become that which they must become.  The combination of this and that dictates the shedding of the skin.  The position of the sun.  The tilt of the planet.  The wind and even our place in the universe creates the mandate to fly once they have become.

How do we save butterflies?

Buy a poster of the alphabet made of butterfly wings?         No.
Watch a movie?         No.
Go to a museum?       No.
Hand out seeds?        No.
Look at Facebook posts of others doing something?         No.

The only way to bring about change is to make something.

Recently we hosted Laura Phelan playing her composition for the Blue Morpho. We all listened to it a little bit differently because of the changes we have experienced.

And how will I save the butterflies?  I will do what I can do.  I will grow the food they need.  I will plant Milkweed.  I will help make this world hospitable for them.  And I will share my actions with others.