Monarchs, Mums, and Metamorphosis in Maine

A feast before taking flight.

Nature amazes and inspires in every season. It is October in Maine, the light is bright and low in the sky, and the air is crisp as the sun moves southward. Brilliantly colored foliage and hardy flowering plants give up their splendor to leaf peepers and creative wellness seekers. What could be more refreshing than a post-card perfect fall day in New England? Then, a pause and a feeling of awe as I catch a glimpse of the feeding habits of a butterfly.

After a summer nurtured by Milkweed nectar, the Northeast population of Monarch butterflies has completed their biological evolution from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to winged adult. In early autumn the Monarch spreads its distinctive wings with the instinct to migrate to a warm winter roost in Florida or Mexico. This robust butterfly will fly thousands of miles in its short lifetime, sailing on thermals and joining with other Monarchs as they navigate the annual return to their ancestral habitat. They have achieved their metamorphosis and life’s purpose to take flight and create more beauty, more Monarchs to pollinate and populate the flowers in season, to create and recreate.

I caught this Monarch, first when I heard and felt its flutter by my shoulder as it flew onto my porch. It landed on a delicious hardy aster with pollen-rich blooms. Providing potted plants that are flower food for butterflies and bees is one of my peak creative experiences. When the Monarch arrived on this purple blossom, there were several bees who seemed to respectfully move to another mum. Royalty had indeed arrived. Humbled, it allowed my presence and my camera. Glimpsing these enigmatic creatures in their glory is Nature’s creative gift that keeps giving, in the moment and in the memory of its wonder. My artists’ eye and heart are full of inspiration. The Monarch symbolizes the metamorphic process of creative instinct, persistence, and resiliency. We have only to spread our wings and trust the process, to lift ourselves up and go the distance, to take flight and enjoy the journey.