With a Little Help from My Friends
Regal burnt orange and midnight black monarch wings often float through our backyard. To encourage their visits, my husband planted tropical milkweeds along the fence. There visiting monarchs feast on succulent nectar and tuck their pearly eggs under long green leaves. The eggs soon burst yielding hungry hatchlings. Wiggling out to host leaves’ edges, they feed voraciously while gaining exponential weight and girth.
At the appointed time, the black, white, and yellow banded caterpillars strike out to find a suitable support for their home of transformation. Hanging like a “J” from a tiny silk pad they form an elegant pale green chrysalis bejeweled with shiny gold dots. After about ten days their wondrous transfiguration into delicate adult butterflies completes. As many times as we have witnessed this mini-miracle, we eagerly watch each stage of their life journey awaiting the grand finale. If you’re also interested in monarchs, photographer Jerry Dalrymple has some beautiful shots of their life cycle on his website. Harlen E. and Altus Aschen also document the entire process on their school website.
One afternoon, a spring rainstorm swept over us bringing a much needed drink to thirsty flora and fauna alike. Once the sun peeked through cumulus billows, I ventured outside to clean the pool of unwanted leaves. Then, a spot of floating saffron caught my eye. Closer inspection proved it to be a monarch driven by the wind and held like glue by the water’s surface tension. Wings soaked, it struggled valiantly to free itself from its liquid quagmire. Gently, I lifted it in the pool net and held it underneath a milkweed stem. Its tiny black legs grabbed at the lifeline and crawled aboard. There warm sun rays dried its water logged wings. Once restored, the monarch hitched a gentle breeze and fluttered away.
Words from the Beatles’ 1967 hit song, “With a Little Help from My Friends”, echoed in my mind as I finished cleaning the pool. I thought of my husband and the butterflies he often rescued so tenderly with his big hands.
Then I recalled all of the times that friends came to my aid in times of trouble with a listening ear and an encouraging word. Like the monarch I’d been brought down by one of life’s storms and needed a compassionate hand to pull me up and set me in a safe place to recover. “Gonna try with a little help from my friends.” I’ve seen a lot more of life’s storms with their associated damage recently. Admittedly, helping a human being is a lot more complex than a butterfly, but then I’ve never had a relationship with an insect. I breathed a silent prayer: Help me God to always to invest with love and empathy in the lives of others. Will you join me?