The Monarch of Time


Over the last 20 years, I have had over a hundred letters and columns published in Charlottesville. Reader appreciation has been my pay and the following letter inspired the most responses:

"Bobbing and weaving, it floated into Scott Stadium amidst 60,000 fans and all the sounds and fury of a Saturday afternoon football game. It weighed a fraction of an ounce and had a brain, I’d guess, the size of a grain of sand, but it is a giant of the natural world and one of my heroes.

It was a Monarch butterfly on its astonishing migration to central Mexico. Monarchs have been been passing through Charlottesville in late September on schedule. It’s always been amusing and poignant seeing these delicate creatures, with the huge will, negotiating buildings, trees, etc.-zigzagging left and right, up and down, but always heading south. Same with this migrant.

It moved just above the action of the field, almost playfully it seemed. It was UVA third and long, but this butterfly paid no mind. Onward.

Then, it ascended, flutter by flutter, above the many rows of fans and finally it was gone, over the top and out. Keene by nightfall. I fantasized about everything in Scott Stadium coming to a halt–– the game, the band, the concessions–– as all watched and cheered for this mighty migrant through this challenge."

The most memorable response was a phone call from a very appreciative mother who said that her young son had seen with awe the same butterfly.