I set off on a solo kayak excursion Friday afternoon, on a quest for some pretty rocks at the tip of Government Island. However, the water from the big lake was aggressive and volatile. Billowing swells and white caps warned me not to go any further with my lack of experience. I paddled back along the edge of Government's shore back to kinder waters.
A sandy section of beach beckoned me in for a rest. Once on shore I breathed in the beautiful sunlit pine, and gazed in awe at a cluster of wild daisies set against the backdrop of crystal blue water.
I stood there attempting to capture it in photos, hopeful that maybe just one shot would do it justice. As I glanced down at my feet in the sand, a fleck of orange caught my eye. Clinging to a pine sapling, dangerously close to the lapping waves was a beautiful monarch butterfly. I moved slowly closer and discovered that his upper right wing was badly torn and tangled under his lower wing, rendering him flightless. To have once soared the crisp blue skies, there he sat awaiting certain death.
I carefully removed him from the tiny branch, as he flapped his broken wings in vain. I placed him in a sturdy pine tree on higher ground. It was all I could do… (?) Or was it? A quick consult with Google revealed a complicated, but feasible solution. There was hope! I poured out the rest of my coffee, gave my trusty Yeti a quick rinse in the lake and dried it out with my bathing suit coverup. It served as the perfect transport carrier for the butterfly as I paddled full force against the wind back to the cottage. I made it back in about 20 minutes. The beautiful monarch "chilled out" in the fridge for 10 minutes while I ran off to the store to acquire toothpicks, super glue and baby powder. The cooler temperature and the darkness lowers their metabolism and puts them in a restive state. I was nervous and skeptical. This was my first surgery without any training whatsoever. All I had to go by were the detailed instructions typed out on livemonarch.com. But I had to at least TRY!! Gavin & Greta offered their assistance in the laundry room that we had converted into the Butterfly OR. Towel and surgical tools set out on the ironing board, we were ready for the patient.
Greta held the procedural restraints in place (tweezers) while Gavin was in charge of the surgical lamp (my phone flashlight). Ever so extremely carefully I positioned the veins of the wing parts together and adhered them with dabs of super glue on toothpicks. I held them in place at length, careful not to involve any other of the wings with the glue. The 5 second dry time as promised on the glue packaging was much to be desired. 🙄 After the glue had finally set at the crucial points, I set about repairing the small hole that remained in the middle of the wing. Livemonarch.com suggested using a small bit of sturdy paper. I cut out a small spot of very lightweight cardboard and glued it beneath the wing, successfully patching the hole. After it had all dried, I did as instructed and coated the fracture lines with a light dusting of baby powder using a Q-tip. At long last we were ready to bring the patient back outside.
We offered him a napkin soaked in sugar water while he flexed his patched up wing in the sunlight. I had resigned myself to having done the very best I could. I wasn't hanging too much hope that this poor butterfly would successfully fly away, but he DID!!! A quick flutter of his wings, and he lifted up into the air and settled up into a nearby cedar.
He sat there for a couple of hours perhaps wondering what the heck had just happened, wondering how he was suddenly able to fly again. And then of course the moment I wasn't looking, he flew off into the sky for good. I'm so thankful that I found him and that information was available to fix him. #butterflyeffect #thelittlethings