Butterfly Navigation Systems

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Monarch and Queen on Zinnia taken in Voca

October saw the beauty of migration.  What seemed like millions of monarchs floated overhead on their long journey to Mexico.  They were like feathers on the wind, so graceful.  I am always astonished at how such seemingly fragile creatures can endure so much and travel so far.

I wondered how far they actually travel and found this record:  “A tagged male monarch (Danaus plexippus), released by Donald A. Davis (Canada) at Presqu’ile provincial Park near Brighton, Ontario, Canada, on 10 September 1988, was recaptured on 8 April 1989 in Austin, Texas, U.S.A., travelling an estimated 2880 miles, making this the World’s Longest Butterfly Migration according to the Guinness World Records Ltd (Davis, 2005)

 But usually a single monarch doesn’t make the entire trip.  Monarch butterflies may take as many as five generations to make it from Mexico to southern Canada and back again (Main, 2013).  Each generation is made up of four distinct life cycles – that’s 20 separate states of being.  

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Which came first the monarch or the egg?  (The Science of monarchs)

 So, this is where it gets spiritual for me.  Somehow the knowledge of the journey gets passed not from one monarch to another but through an evolution of existences.  There is a ONENESS…from the butterfly to the egg to the caterpillar to the chrysalis to the butterfly.  Five monarchs, five times in an egg, five caterpillars, and five times in chrysalis:  the journey just continues.  Is it really five different monarchs making the trip or the spirit of one monarch just trying on new outfits along the way?

And then I think about the swarms of monarchs making the trip…this knowledge…this “TRUTH” is within each of them.  I don’t know how they share it or how they hear it, but they all just KNOW.  Could the swarm of butterflies really be part of a greater being…all butterflies are truly one? 

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In the Elm Tree across the Creek from my House

 

What is this monarch navigation system? How quiet the mind of a monarch must be to hear this mystical guide!

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Sunning in the field

I was on the phone for an hour Saturday with somebody I dearly love. It’s funny because I NEVER talk on the phone…nonetheless for an hour. We talked about how we both suffer from relentless voices in our heads…there is never quiet…never space.  The voices drive us and push us in directions we think we SHOULD go.  We hear the directions society, our parents, our bosses, our lovers believe we should go.  They chatter, like multiple GPS guidance systems talking at once, constantly recalculating new routes.

I believe that like the monarchs, we don’t need a GPS. I think we are all born with monarch navigation systems that gently whisper the directions.  But the voice is gentle, never forceful.  So, I must learn to quiet my mind to truly hear.  I know there is a whisper for me…I can feel the loving call.  I just have to be quiet enough to hear.

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I constantly try to photograph the butterflies in flight…this was closest I got that day

References

Davis, D. (2005, September). Meet Canadian Naturalist. Retrieved from Journey North: https://journeynorth.org/tm/monarch/DavisDonBio.html

Main, D. (2013, August 13). Monarch butterflies may take five generations to migrate to US . Retrieved from NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/sciencemain/monarch-butterflies-may-take-five-generations-migrate-us-6C10910055

The Science of monarchs. (n.d.). Retrieved from Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club: https://www.chautauquabtg.org/life-cycle-anatomy/

 

 

 

 

The air I breathe…

(I took all the photos around Voca, TX  – – such a beautiful spring!)

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I’ve been lost . . . for a long time, I think . . .

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There is beauty wild messiness. . . 

Sometime during the last few decades, pieces of me died. Things that once burned brightly, faded. I can still feel a tiny flicker under my ribs, but it’s just a faint warmth.

I got caught up in being accepted…being loved…being kind…being like everyone else…

(How honest should I be in this blog? If I share too much somebody might feel hurt…but isn’t that the attitude that got me here in the first place?)

I SOLD OUT.

I traded my spark for conformity. I traded freedom for safety.  And I lost myself.

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No audience is necessary for beauty to exist… no approval needed.

I learned something the other day as I walked/ran (wan or ralked) with the dogs. The aroma of trees in bloom was bewitching.  I found myself inhaling more deeply than I usually do.  I realized I was being beautifully seduced by these wise, wild arboreal beings…actually by all things green and fragrant. As I inhaled the air, I benefitted from the oxygen and the enchanting scent. When I exhaled, I returned the favor as carbon dioxide. I visualized ribbons of CO2 rising to meet imaginary nostrils on leaves.

Without effort…without sacrifice…without losing myself, I was able to be a part of the circle simply by BE-ing. With a simple breath I gave easily and easily received.

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Pollination starts with a thirst…with a desire…

Ugly Truth

 

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Warning – I’m going to share about rape, and fear, and being a woman in 2017.

 

My fear of vulnerability and fear of tears have made me hesitant to write the following. Honestly, I have rarely ever even discussed it.  But now is the time for these stories to emerge. Sadly, if you’re a woman, the odds are very high that you have experienced some form of sexual assault.*

Once upon a time, my friend (we’ll call him Chucky) had a party at his apartment. Chucky and I were buddies. He was one of those guys you thought you could trust. You probably had a male friend like that in school.  He never came onto me – never touched me inappropriately or even made “those” kind of jokes.  I trusted him.  So as Van Halen blared on the stereo,  I felt perfectly safe slamming golden shots of tequila at his kitchen table.

As the music grew louder and the night grew later, we decided a game of quarters was a good idea. I vaguely remember the room swimming as I aimed my body for the door, trying to go home.  I fell down the first flight of stairs, staggered across the landing and rolled the rest of the way into the shrubs.  I also remember friends laughing, dragging me back up the stairs.

“Chucky, can’t she just sleep it off here?” My friends all trusted him as well. He’d never been anything but a perfect gentleman. And Chucky agreed, “Just put her on my bed. She’s close to the bathroom that way. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

Darkness…

When I woke up, it was still dark but he was on top of me, grunting, wiggling…raping me.  I was so dizzy…I couldn’t even fight. I couldn’t even roll away or push him off…I was trapped under his animal musk and groans. I couldn’t even cry.

then more darkness…

Later I woke again…silently… I didn’t make any accusations. I felt so ashamed, so sick. I pulled my pants on and left.

I tried to tell someone. This woman I loved and trusted told me it was my own fault…that I was a drunken slut.  I tried to tell someone else, but she warned me that it would be a waste of time to go to the police. I wasn’t really raped if I was in his bed drunk.

I dropped it. I even continued my friendship with Chucky on a superficial level. I never mentioned it to him.  I did stupid little childish things to get even – ping pong balls in his gas tank, threatening notes on his door…but I couldn’t go on…so I left school, left town, left the state, joined the Army.

I was never the same …never ever the same…

you know all those situations that frighten you as a woman…the drunk in the parking lot of the local bar demanding sex because he bought you a drink, men brushing up against you too closely, breathing into your neck, strangers staring at your ass…being grabbed, being fondled…

these things terrified me. So I just acted tougher…

Once you’ve been assaulted, you never feel safe again.  I still find myself holding my breath in certain situations…unable to find my voice…

I’m 50 years old – not a hot, young, sexy babe – still I can’t even run down the side of the highway without mace or a dog or both…because I’ve been followed and stalked. Because for some reason, my sweaty body conveys I want to get laid. “Hey baby”, cat calls, honking…just a few weeks ago, one man in a white van actually did three u-turns to follow me. It was obvious enough a neighbor driving by noticed and stopped to check on me.

I recently read one of the most moving essays I’d ever read “Becoming Ugly.”  I do not try to be beautiful. I do not fix my hair, color my cheeks and nails, because I do not want to be beautiful. I want to be strong…because so often I’m afraid.

AND there is more…

Our bodies and souls are breached…

Our strength is ripped from us as girls when we are told we are not smart enough….as women when we are paid less…when we are told our blood is dirty and our bodies are weak…we are told that we are original sin…

and when we speak…when we finally clear our throats, take that breath, and speak out, we are again slapped down…and this time not just by the men who would harm us, but by our own sisters.

And each time, it takes longer for our voices to regain volume..and each time it becomes that much harder to rise again..

But we WILL rise again. TOGETHER we will find our voices, and TOGETHER we will run down the highway fearlessly someday.

 

*Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner.  www.nytimes.com/2011/…/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexualassault.htm.