I find myself reacting to things differently as I get older. One would expect that someone in their late 30s would have a decent level of maturity… especially when around children. I keep surprising myself with the composure I can wield around my students at times when funny things happen, but, on occasion, I find myself acting as if I never grew past four years old. Like when you walk into the teachers’ lounge and there are doughnuts sitting out, waiting to be eaten, or that moment when your favorite song comes on the radio while driving home from a long day, there is a joy that surges up from somewhere inside you and you can’t help but smile, like the kind of smile that makes your cheeks hurt, and you express your deep excitement by blurting out a “Wooo!” or “Yes!” or my favorite, “Yeah Buddy!” while simultaneously fist pumping. It’s as if you’ve forgotten there are other people around… because at that moment it doesn’t matter. Well, this such occurrence happened to me yet again on Wednesday, April 12.
After leaving the gym to head up for lunch around 11:30 a.m. I looked out the window to see if the recess equipment was out for students to play with during their upcoming recess. As I did I instantly saw a flash of orange that caught my eye and I noticed a kindergartner running after what appeared to be an orange butterfly. As I walked outside to take a closer look I realized it was a Monarch butterfly. I instantly yelled, “It’s a Monarch!” which got the attention of several students close by. I said, “You guys keep watching it… I’ll be right back!” I quickly ran back inside and grabbed my cell phone with the hope of catching a quick pic. As I walked briskly back out onto the playground, and around a corner of the building I saw that one of the kindergarten students did keep an eye on the Monarch and pointed to which way it went. I waited for a moment and found it again, flying across the grass that connects our school property and the adjacent park. I walked as fast as I could, without running, because running after a butterfly at my age would be way over the top. After a couple of moments of slowing to a stop and waiting, the Monarch found a dandelion to land on and I was able to get close enough to snap this grainy picture…
As I checked my phone to see if I was successful, the Monarch caught a warm breeze and was off again. My cheeks were squeezed in a big smile as I discovered I got the pic! Walking back to school I realized how crazy I must have looked had someone been watching. But just like finding doughnuts in the lounge or hearing my favorite song come on the radio, it didn’t matter what anyone thought, because seeing my first Monarch butterfly of the year has become one of these things for me.
It didn’t take long before I had another “Monarch Moment,” as I’ve started calling them. On Friday, April 14th, as I was spending time with our kids out in our backyard after school I saw another Monarch flying overhead. I whipped out my phone and was able to snap this picture…
But, what made this encounter so grand was that as I watched this Monarch flying around us, she started flying lower around some of our Purple Milkweed plants that had emerged from dormancy only a couple weeks earlier. To my surprise, the Monarch started to lay eggs. So, as you can imagine, I was frozen with excitement. I kept thinking “Nah ah!” as she continued to lay egg after egg. I knew I was watching something special. This female Monarch butterfly had made the long flight back from overwintering in Mexico and was now laying some of her final eggs on our Milkweed!!! After about five minutes of pure amazement, I was able to take this picture…
Wow!!! She laid eggs on several of our Milkweed plants we had planted in our backyard and even found many of the potted Milkweeds we are preparing to sell at the Market. I’m sure I missed a few, but the count I came up with is 23-24 eggs in all!
As I reflect upon these “Monarch Moments,” I can’t help but think about how glad I am that we had Milkweed available for this weary female Monarch to lay her eggs on. I kept thinking… where would she have gone had she not found our Milkweed… would she have had the energy left to look? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I know that our Milkweed was just what she was looking for. This is what fuels our passion as we add Milkweed to our backyard and to as many spaces as we can. Monarchs need our help. They are looking for Milkweed and finding it in fewer places. To help stop, and even reverse this trend, it’s as simple as adding more Milkweed to our outdoor spaces. If you are interested in helping the Monarchs click this link Milkweed for Monarchs to see what we are growing and selling this year. If you are interested in creating a Monarch butterfly garden, then our Monarch Magnet Butterfly Garden is perfect for you! Simply click this link, Monarch Magnet Butterfly Garden, to learn more! Oh, and the eggs have hatched, and now we have our first Monarch caterpillars of 2017!
Contact us and let us know if you have any questions… here’s to many more “Monarch Moments” this year! – Jay Parsons
One thought on “The Monarchs are Back!”
Jay! This was so exciting! I loved your perspective and joy. I am going to do this in our yard! The tiny monarch caterpillars are so cute! Keep us updated!