The Making of a Monarch – Nature’s Story

Many people had their eyes on the new season of the Netflix series, The Crown, over the past couple of months as we continue existing through the Covid 19 pandemic. Today’s post is not meant to take anything from Queen Elizabeth II, who I’ve greatly admired for years, along with the first Queen Elizabeth from the 1500’s, strong women who met challenges head on with strength, resilience, and grace.

While others were viewing their TV’s to see how the Princess Diana years would be presented on the screen, my husband and I had the opportunity to watch another monarch come into existence. QEII’s reign is far longer than the monarch I’ve grown to admire, but the same strength, resilience, and grace were present.

I’ve lived in San Angelo for nearly four years now. During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to see the monarch butterflies stop here on their way south to Mexico and the Oyamel fir tree forests, where they live through the winter months before making the flight back north in the spring.

This year, I prepared for the arrival of the monarchs by planting butterfly-friendly plants, including milkweed, the only thing the monarch caterpillar eats. In this case, I chose tropical milkweed which produces beautiful flowers that also attracts other butterflies, wasps, and bees. All good for the nature around me.

Why am I writing about my garden and butterflies, you may be wondering? With social media conversations including the topics of wearing or not wearing masks, voting Democrat or voting Republican, or choosing to stay at home or go to work because staying home isn’t an option in your job, I thought it was important to put something positive that I felt everyone could possibly agree on in this time of split decisions and endless debates.

That said, let’s talk about the miracle of the creation of the butterfly. Please know I’m not an expert, I’m merely sharing what I saw, nothing scientific and no use of terms I can’t pronounce.

On October 4, I went to the International Waterlily Gardens in San Angelo and walked behind the gardens to the trail along the Concho River. I got to see the monarch butterflies flitting around and landing on the pecan trees near the water. I knew it was only a matter of time before they arrived in my butterfly garden to lay eggs.
We got to watch as the fully-grown caterpillar left the milkweed and made its way to the top of the cage to find a place to transform into a chrysalis.
We even got to see a portion of the transformation. Not the best video, as I took it with my cell phone but you get the picture.
I was able to capture video of another monarch after it left the chrysalis. It’s amazing just how much is tucked away in the tiny shell to emerge as a full-grown butterfly. Nature’s miracle at work.

You may still be wondering the purpose of this blog, aside from sharing an interesting nature experience. Here it is. The Monarch Butterfly, notice I capitalize the name, lives only two to four weeks after it leaves the chrysalis. The entire process from egg to butterfly took between six and seven weeks. It took longer to produce this exquisite creature than it actually will live on this Earth.

When most of the people I talk to think of a butterfly, they think of the orange, black, and white butterfly, whether they know what it’s called or not. Most have no idea everything it goes through in order to even make an appearance. For those of us who have the great fortune to see it, we should feel extremely honored, which is why I capitalize its regal name and why I share this experience with you. I think of its magnificent beauty that only lasts a few short weeks but is ever present in our minds when we think of the butterfly. After all it goes through, I understand why it is one of the most beautiful creatures on earth or it is, in my humble opinion. I believe God’s handiwork had everything to do with its creation. You may disagree and that is your right.

In thinking of our own lives, we are not here long in the big scheme of things, considering the universe is 13.8 billion years old. Are we making the best of it? Are we showing our true beauty every day? Are we making a lasting, positive impression on others around us? I know I fail many times at this but it doesn’t stop me from continuing to try. I encourage you to make the best of the life you are given. If you don’t like your life right now, fix it. You are the only one who can. And when you do get your life back on track, my hope is you soar with the butterflies and live your best life, as it’s the only one we’re blessed to have. Get out there and soar!