The Sturgeon Point Marina is three convenient miles down the road from my house. I take the five dogs there frequently, especially when there’s mud on every inch of my property. I’d rather deal with sand in my truck than mud on every surface in the house.
The sun was out yesterday with temps in the high 40s, and the wind was fairly calm, so I loaded the dogs and to the beach we headed. The surf was quiet, waves lapping gently at the edge of the lake. A few gulls teased Leika by dipping into the water just out of her reach. The three labs waded in and out of the water and Sadie stayed by my side, hoping for a treat.
While the dogs did their thing, I searched among the pebbles and sand for beach glass. The water’s edge was littered with leaves and dead algae that’d washed up with the tides, so I almost missed the slight movement next to my hand as I reached for a piece of glass.
A monarch butterfly , it’s wings folded tightly against each other sat next to a bundle of leaves. The movement I’d seen was it’s antennae. I put my hand down next to it and after touching me a couple times with it’s leg, it climbed on. I cupped my palm as much to protect it from the breeze as to prevent it from falling off my hand. It sat there for nearly 45 min. while I picked up more glass, played with the dogs and gave out treats. My mind wandered, wondering what I was going to do with this fragile thing of beauty. The kid in me wanted to bring it home and let it live in the house. The adult in me knew that this late in the season, the insect should have been well on it’s way to far warmer climates. Among the leaf litter were countless skeletons of unsuccessful butterflies who would never make that journey. I was at odds as to what to do with this little treasure.
I believe the butterfly took warmth from my hand…maybe even something else. It began to slowly open and close it’s wings and crawled onto my thumb. Suddenly it took to the air, flapping as if ready to continue on. The dogs saw it lift from my hand and continued watching it while it flitted up and over the water.
Alas, I couldn’t give it what it needed, for when it flew thirty feet over the lake, it’s wings faltered. The butterfly fluttered in vain until it finally plunged into the water, to eventually join the others on the beach.
Leika saw it hit the water and quickly waded out to where it’d gone down. But the waves had already taken it, the lake claimed the body, if only for a while. It saddened me to think the valiant effort the little creature had made, would cause a quicker death. But that is the circle of life.