Chasing butterflies

 

monarch flying2

After so many monarch sightings yesterday afternoon and evening I decided I’d go out purposely seeking them in the hopes of taking better photographs with my Canon camera. It was an absolutely beautiful day today and I was lucky enough to get some extra time with Jaycie while her father and sister went shopping for her birthday presents. When I’d finished my work inside, we went outside so she could swing and I could do some butterfly chasing.

Yesterday I saw the monarch flying around the farmer’s field behind my house so I started walking that direction, camera in hand. A monarch fluttered by and flew into the hedgerow so I changed course and looked for it among the bushes there. I couldn’t see it but as I was looking I heard the cry of a hawk from the southern sky. Instantly curious, I stepped away from the hedgerow until I had a full view of the sky and to my delight, there was a pair of hawks flying across the field from east to west. They were so far away my zoom didn’t do them justice but I did get them both in the same photo.

Pair of hawks circling over the farmer's field.

Pair of hawks circling over the farmer’s field.

Once the hawks had disappeared over the treetops to the west, I returned my attention to the field and was immediately greeted by the sight of a monarch butterfly flying about. I snapped a couple pictures hoping I got him in the frame since it was impossible to see the viewfinder in the bright sunlight. Happily, I got a couple shots of him/her in flight.

monarch flying1

The orange blur is the monarch.

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As I watched the single monarch, another monarch appeared and the two were quickly involved in an aerial battle/mating flight which I tried to capture in pictures.

monarchs flying2

I’ve never seen two monarchs do this!

monarchs flying1

They flew quite high in the sky during their contact.

As I’m not a monarch butterfly, I can’t tell male and female so I didn’t know if it was a battle between two males or a mating flight between a male and female.  After the aerial display they both took a rest in the field about five feet away from each other.

monarch1

Monarch 1

monarch2

Monarch 2

I walked back to where Jaycie was swinging and sat in my comfortable, cushioned bench for a while admiring the blue sky and puffy clouds floating slowly across the horizon. I asked Jaycie if she wanted to go see the monarchs since she’d done a report on them for school and she said she did. Back we walked and we saw one of the monarchs flying around when we were about three feet from the edge of the field.

I told Jaycie there was a second monarch somewhere out there and started to walk into the field to see if I could flush it out for her to see. I did find both monarchs but once I saw what they were doing I decided that coaxing them into flight wouldn’t be very nice. The moment I saw them I knew they were a male and a female as they sat on a thick green leaf, back to back, engaged in mating.

mating monarchs3

At first I thought it was just one of the monarchs.

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Then I saw two pairs of wings!

mating monarchs1

I turned back toward Jaycie to ask if she saw them but she was already halfway back to the swings. I don’t think she actually saw them, I think she got bored watching mommy take pictures and went back to doing fun things. I can honestly say I’d never seen butterflies mating until today but I found it quite beautiful as they slowly opened and closed their wings, sitting peacefully on the leaf.

Feeling I’d intruded enough, I left them to their affair and rejoined Jaycie at the swings. I had no idea chasing butterflies was going to be such a learning experience! Amazing what you can discover when you stop the hectic pace of life and admire the wonder of the world around us.

 

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Promises on monarch wings

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Took this picture with my phone and zoomed in. Trust me, there's a monarch in it.

The weather finally cooled off and became less humid enough to mow today. As I mowed this afternoon I was treated to the sight of monarch butterflies. I’m always so happy when the monarchs start appearing! They’re symbolic of transformation for me and carry messages from my father and other family spirits.

I love all types of butterflies and smile whenever one flies by me. I even bring my mower to a complete stop if there’s one perched on a flower in front of me. The roar of the mower is enough to make them fly away and I continue on my course. Seeing two butterflies flying together is a powerfully positive sign and never to be ignored.

When I was done mowing, I took Jazzmin for a walk in the lovely evening air. Shortly after we set out, a monarch butterfly appeared flying in the direction we were walking. He paused on a plant by the side of the road and I snapped the picture at the top of this post before an oncoming car scared him away.

Jazz and I had a great walk in the sunshine with the pleasant breeze and she was all happy, panting smiles on our way home. As we neared my driveway, another monarch fluttered by us and I paused to watch him as he disappeared further up the road. Wearing a wide,  happy smile, I continued toward home and started looking forward to the many wonderful promises awaiting me on monarch wings.

Nature’s Artwork

I am imperfect. Everyone is. Yet every day I see commercials advertising beauty products and fitness programs to help men and women achieve perfection. Chasing dreams is one thing, striving for the impossible is ridiculous.

I have a great appreciation for nature. Nature is beautiful without even trying. The blazing sunrise, the changing leaves, the churning clouds, the glow of sunset. Beautiful without trying to be perfect. Nature just is what it is and if you don’t stop to see that, you’re missing out.

This past Monday morning started out beautiful with a pink cast to the clouds as the sun made its journey to rise over the hills. The sun shone ever so briefly before the dark clouds of the rapidly approaching cold front blocked it out. That contrast of darkness and light was stunning to behold. Nature wasn’t trying to impress me by puffing up its chest or slathering on makeup for a perfect complexion. Nature was just doing what it does.

I managed to take Jazzmin on a short walk as the front blew in and dropped the mild morning temperatures down 10 degrees. We walked into a field and to the top of the hill to get a better view of the dark clouds. I snapped a picture of Jazz with the turbulent sky as the backdrop and to my amazement, my camera phone captured the colors perfectly.

Jazzmin and the sky

Jazzmin and the sky

Later that evening after the rain had come and gone, I went out into the yard with my daughters to enjoy the last of the day. While we were outside I saw a monarch fly by and was surprised when he landed in one of my back pine trees. I’ve never seen a monarch do that before. He stayed on one branch for a long time and Jordan was nice enough to fetch my camera for me. I took several pictures of him and he stayed still until the very last one when I turned the flash on. He opened his wings just as the picture snapped and then flew higher into the tree and out of sight.

Monarch up in my pine tree

Monarch up in my pine tree

As I write this the sky is ablaze with orange, red, pink and blue. Another breathtaking autumn sunset in what has been a true season to treasure. There is just a sliver of the moon in the sky and brush strokes of clouds. Nothing compares to nature’s artwork and she always pulls it off effortlessly.