We went camping at Lake Whitney State Park with a homeschool group a couple of weeks ago and were lucky enough to be a part of something pretty neat. On checkout day, besides the family with which we had shared a campsite, all of the other families had already left. We decided to explore the park with our campsite-mates for a bit before departing. We had been seeing a lot of monarchs passing through on their annual migration to Mexico, and that afternoon, even with its high wind gusts, was no exception. While searching the beach for interesting rocks, I saw a monarch take a nose dive and land pretty hard.
It wasn't moving very well and kept getting blown about by the wind. So I did what any butterfly lover would do: I let it climb onto my hand and kept it protected from the gusts. My son took on the post of second in command of the butterfly protection brigade.
Upon closer examination, I could see that this butterfly had taken a lot of wear and tear. It was missing a couple of legs, and it had what looked to be an injury at the top of its thorax. It was not moving very much, and we feared the worst. When the rest of the group wanted to go find a better spot for skipping stones, we had to figure out what to do with it. Bug Barn to the rescue! The Bug Barn was our first ever homeschool project three years ago. My son did most of the building, and I did the painting per his instructions.
With some help, we were able to coax the butterfly into its new temporary home. Even within the shelter of an enclosed space, it was not active at all. We drove a ways to another area that proved to be a prime spot for skipping stones, and the contest between the boys (the grown ones, that is) ensued. I kept an eye on our new friend, and it eventually started to climb around a bit. When it was time for us to leave, the butterfly had become quite active, having gotten a nice rest away from the high winds. It was time to send it on its way. It didn't want to come out of the front door, so we had to take apart the side of the barn to get it to come out.
After it crawled out onto my hand, it took a brief flight of a few feet. But just when we thought maybe it had not rested enough and were considering what to do, it took off. As it climbed higher and higher, another monarch came into view and tumbled around in the air with our friend as if to say, "Come on, this way!" We watched them fly off together until we could no longer see them, feeling our hearts swell with the beauty of nature and the end of a great camping trip.