Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hopeful Butterflies, Idea Sparking and "Zoo Story"..whew!

This morning, I saw three monarchs on the purple butterfly bush outside my window. I was so happy to see them, since I love all butterflies, especially the red-orange monarchs, but as soon as I grabbed my camera to capture the moment, they were gone.

For most of the summer, I have seen many tiger swallowtails (both yellow and black), but no monarchs. Only recently have the monarchs made an appearance--on, I assume, their way to overwinter in Mexico. 

If they make it there.

They don't know if they'll make it, but they do know that they have to try. 

Hmmm. This idea applies to everyone and everything. It applies to me, as well. 

Every time I see a butterfly, it is usually when I need a mental lift. Funny how that happens.

Just a glimpse of a butterfly can be enough to raise my spirits or remind me that there is a greater purpose, even if I had just forgotten that, and even though I will surely forget it again.

I have been working, coincidentally, on a series of butterfly drawings, since I've felt a nagging need to do this, lately. The butterfly drawings have been an idea that's been simmering in me for a while. (When they are finished, I will probably scan and post them here.)

It's interesting to me how these ideas seem to come out of nowhere, and they just patiently wait to be used. Sometimes, these are ideas that were sparked months ago, such as my early June fascination with elephants, coming full circle now.

I just learned so much more about elephants from a fantastic new book, Zoo Story, by Thomas French (see cover shot, above).

I have long held that animals most certainly have souls (and I even had a big argument with a priest about this once), and this same idea is illustrated by French in his absorbing story of the zookeepers and famous animals of the Lowry Park zoo in Florida.

Animals are certainly thinking, feeling creatures, and to realize that, as French writes, elephants clearly have an understanding of the fundamentals of electricity (they know how to short out the electric fences that enclose them), and chimps have complex Machiavellian power plays in their groups, and that animals never forget the people who loved them and that people are much more like animals than we even realize...that was all quite amazing.

What powerful, affecting stories French captured. The reportage he did in Zoo Story was absolutely staggering to me as a former journalist. 

I won't say anything more except READ THIS BOOK. It is so worth your time; the world will make more sense after you read Zoo Story (and those who believe that chimps are not our closest genetic relatives, those who think evolution is a crock and anti-God, definitely need to read Zoo Story). 

In the meantime, I will wait to be surprised by more monarchs and by the next great book that comes my way. 

Butterflies, like the ideas that float past us and through us, need to be recognized, considered, documented and appreciated. They are all reminders that hope is everywhere around us, and everything will be alright if only we open our eyes.


  1. Always get great book recs from you. Reserving this one now at library, and ah, yes, the butterflies in Mexico. A bucket lister, if there ever was one.

  2. I agree about that. I hear it's ridiculously touristy, but I still want to see the monarchs in the Mexico forest...

    Thanks for reading.



  3. I find meaning in seeing butterflies too... We all need reminders to pause and pay attention to the world around us.
    Looking forward to your drawings!

  4. Thanks, Aurelie. Butterflies amaze me because they don't *need* to be so pretty in order to get their job done. But they are, and that has to have purpose and meaning, doesn't it?



  5. Reading about you this morning via the educationaltechnology blog. It is madness that you lost your job. Pure madness. Have you considered suing? I think you have a serious case.

  6. I am sorry it took me so long to notice the comment above (sometimes that happens). My mother once told me, "Nice people do not sue each other." That always stuck with me. Besides, some things are just not worth it, and I think this is one of them. Payback will happen (it's called karma), and that may be because of my upcoming book, or something else that has nothing to do with me. I appreciate the vote of support, however! That's always comforting, so thank you.