Growing Butterflies

“Life Began in a Garden.”

I have a garden. Life is teeming within this garden. Each spade of dirt yields a tangle of earthworms that have done their job well. Rich,dark, fertile life-giving earth.


In the spring and summer, a flock of 20 or more peach faced lovebirds visit the feeders. We see a couple of rogue parakeets who escaped the confines of their cages somewhere along the way. Melodic chirps fill the air. Tiny goldfinches feed on their favorite Nyjer seed. We have sporadic visits from a Cooper’s hawk, a sharp shinned hawk, desert quail and a road runner. Did you know road runners are predators, quite intelligent, and amazing mimickers? I once saw a video of a road runner fighting with a rattlesnake, and guess who won? And here I thought Wily E. Coyote was plain dumb compared to the road runner in the cartoons of my youth.

I sustain life in this garden; lemons, herbs, vegetables, flowers, roses my mom helped me plant when she was alive. Every year near her birthday (December 7th), they are blooming as if it is spring. Massive,saucer like blooms. It is mom letting me know she will always be with me.

Roses Mom & I planted blooming on her birthday. December 7th

GOD is HERE. In my garden. He walks among the flowers and vegetables, the butterflies. I saw a film about the migration of the Monarch, and am consumed with helping them. We planted desert milkweed a few years ago. Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed; it is the one plant the caterpillar will eat. This year, the Monarch population is down 27% to last year, which is frightening. Please plant milkweed.

This fall, we became a registered Monarch way station here in Mesa, Arizona. The annual migration of North America’s Monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon. The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do. Monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Using environmental cues, they know when it is time to travel south for the winter. Monarchs use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel long distances. Some aviate as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home.

Monarchs can travel between 50-100 miles a day; it can take up to two months to complete their journey. The farthest ranging monarch butterfly recorded traveled 265 miles in one day.

We have watched the miracle of metamorphosis quite a few times within this garden. Yesterday, I found at least 8 caterpillars munching away at the milkweed. They will eat until they are fat and happy.

Emerging butterfly

They then find a secure home tucked under the wing of my angel statue, or sheltered within the thorny roses. Transform into a chrysalis in 8-10 days. Within that chrysalis, they begin the miraculous process of becoming a butterfly.

Like the nondescript caterpillar, I too am transforming. For the first time in my life, I am owning ME. I am in my skin and it is liberating. I am no longer ashamed of my past; rather it is now my strength.

As God is in my garden, so he is within me. He is walking with me on this journey. I have never felt his presence more than I do now. I am grateful.

I am joyous. I am at peace.

“And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”- Isaiah 58:11

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