22 July 2019
Monarch Collage, Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved
Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this collage. Prints are available upon request.
Butterflies are silent sorcerers; incredibly visible and invisible. Their presence singles healthy and vibrant landscapes where they feed and pollinate, pollinate and feed. Some are endangered and others near that threshold. Over the last decade I‘ve noticed a decline in the general butterfly population as well as the ever-popular monarch, a singular species that represents the demise of nature’s abundance.
While monarchs and many other species are in crisis, the disruption in their populations has been widely publicized. Campaigns to revive their numbers are working. And subsequently the monarch has become a symbol of climate change, deforestation, human intervention and extinction.
Each butterfly has a design signature that appeals to the human eye, but more importantly the loss of their presence in the natural world (our world) amplifies the future of the planet’s survival as we know it. As the bee and other species strive to survive, the forecast is clear: humanity will be in deep, deep, deep trouble without these creatures. Think food chain. Think agriculture.
Inner sparks fly through my mind as I relive moments of ecstasy as a butterfly settles with grace upon a swamp milkweed or eloquent native hibiscus. A blank page can easily be a canvas for images and words to describe the inner glow achieved as I spy on these tiny reflectors of light. While their future is unknown, history, science and data become predictors.
I cannot perceive of a world without the acrobatics of the butterfly, the whimsy of its flight, the patterns of its wings, the palette of its coloration, the sheer grace as it becomes airborne. To trace my own sightings of these magical ethereal creatures is to count the years that I have been an advocate for the wild and wildlife.
Emotions are heightened and arrested as I contemplate Mother Nature’s fate—a fate inextricably tied to ours. And a tiny epiphany came this week as I witnessed numerous butterflies that I have not observed for years. I’ve witnessed more monarchs this season than in the previous decade. Maybe, just maybe, small acts by you and me can make a difference, at least locally.
Part of my narrative is archived and dated by sightings of those that flit around my gardens, over forty years of care, cultivation and maintenance of the land have brought aviators that call my small corner of the universe theirs. Still, changes are real and significant. I cannot control the greater assault on nature. But I continue to work incredibly hard to provide them what they need to survive. And to encourage others to do the same.
Time will keep its cadence, but the complete return of near-extinct species is questionable. Time is not on their side.
The monarch’s story seems to be a bridge from the lush of the past to the ever-growing “dystopia” of today and what is yet to be: a transformation that marks the greed, selfishness and even desperation by the powers that control policy. Their ignorance is staggering.
I search and search to cradle meaning in these dark, dark times, And it’s emotionally-wrenching to try and separate the assault on human rights from the assault on the natural world. These blend together for me, knowing that one is affecting the other.
This very human story has been waging since the dawn of interaction between Homo sapiens and nature. We certainly lost our way along our journey.
It’s time to make our world whole and illuminate the path toward the greater good. And instill optimism against the odds that we can and will restore balance on this spinning planet that is our home, refuge and sanctuary: a sanctuary for each human animal and every other creature.
In the Lens section is a collage that represents two versions of a scene with a monarch. The conversion to black-and-white was done with the intention to create an atmosphere that focuses on their plight. The images are two versions of the monarch’s possible outcome from the precipice of its loss and continual threat from the human animal. The first image shows clouds of uncertainty; the second image is moving into the light once more as a result of the campaign to revive this critical symbol of Mother Nature and our relationship to her.