I am not sure what moved me
I have been trying to catch a picture of a Monarch butterfly for about six weeks now and have driven myself crazy. I am never quite ready enough to get the shot I am after. Many of them have sailed through my life this summer, flirting, but they are busy and my mission is none of their concern. They have only four or so weeks to do their thing and a camera shoot with me is not on the agenda. My husband laughs at me and sometimes tries to help with “quick quick” calls to the garden. I am not ready to give up, there is something enchanting about just watching their swooping air shows I console, when I leave my camera on the kitchen bench.
I felt my heart crack a little when I saw a monarch whose short weeks had ended on the side of an exhaust black dual carriageway. I was trudging, under hot sun and through petrol fumes, from one car dealership to another when a flag of rust caught my attention.I am not sure what moved me, I see dead insects all the time. I have sometimes witnessed those last pulsating moments and felt only hope that the circle of life had been completed with tiny white eggs. Perhaps because I have recently been so obsessed with them in life. Perhaps the filthy cigarette packet or the torn and scattered wings. It just looked so brutal, like the scene of a murder.
I knew I was being dramatic, but I could not stop looking at the insect tableau at my feet. My son and husband, already hot and bothered and now some way in front of me were shouting and indicating over the traffic noise for me to hurry up. I wanted to pick the pieces up and place them somewhere soft and green. The traffic lights had changed and cars were now whooshing past, I could no longer see my family. I had to leave but took the image with me in my phone.
Some days later I downloaded the picture along with 227 others. Once again it demanded my attention, I stared at the image. Not the ethereal picture I sought, like the one above from WWF, a first generation regal monarch, free and airborne, having emerged from a casket tinged with gold. An ancestor of an insect that managed to island hop from North America to New Zealand. A butterfly whose cousins have, for millennia, navigated their way for thousands of miles to migrate without getting lost to gather in mighty swarms. One of Mother Natures metamorphosing magic tricks, producing four generations in one year to ensure the survival of this king of butterflies. The end seemed so dirty and lonely, an undignified finish. Perhaps that is what I saw by the side of the road. Perhaps the echos of this death bounced around the walls of my own life. Perhaps that’s what unsettled me. Perhaps.