Emerging from her chrysalis on October 20th, a monarch inspired me to come to her aid. I have been raising and releasing monarchs for forty years and knew this one wouldn’t be able to fly with temperatures below 55 degrees, nor would there be any flowers with enough nectar to fuel her on her migration.
Southwest Airlines responded positively to my unusual request by offering to fly both my butterfly and me to San Antonio. Eliciting the advice of a leading monarch scientist, Dr. Lincoln Brower, I learned how best to pack the butterfly safely for the journey, and learned that my big beautiful monarch would be able to join other monarchs for their final flight to Mexico.
Seeking the advice of another monarch scientist, Dr. Chip Taylor, I learned of a local butterfly enthusiast, Monika Maeckle, who arranged for the release at the San Antonio Botanical Garden, and was the most gracious host to the event. I also learned that I could go to jail if I didn’t have a permit to transport my butterfly across state lines.
Another hero of this improbable journey was the head entomologist of the USDA in Washington, Wayne Weyland, who happened to own a copy of my book, The Spirit of Butterflies: Myth, Magic & Art. His saber cut through red tape and a special permit was issued in two days.
This has been and continues to be a journey of the heart and hope and having dreams and facing and overcoming challenges and being inspired to take action to not only save the habitats for these creatures that touch our hearts, but for each of us to become good guardians of our beautiful planet to sustain all life.
A world without butterflies would be a world without hope and we cannot let that happen. We cannot replace all the habitats that have been destroyed, but our gardens can save many species, including our pollinators. A word from the butterflies: no matter how many times the gardens of our lives or our planet are destroyed, we can rebuild, replant, and renew.
And my heart is filled with gratitude for all who made this improbable journey a reality.