Abdicating Monarchs: Butterflies and Others


Monarch Butterfly

While sitting at my computer one morning last week I experienced one of those annoying flicking, twitching nerves in the corner of my eye. Being severely myopic and therefore susceptible to retinal detachment, I am always very attentive to these things as I understand peripheral flashing lights are a symptom of detachment. The movement continued to appear in my peripheral vision until finally I turned and realized it wasn’t a nerve flicking at all, but a butterfly fluttering madly outside my apartment window.

I walked over to the window and saw a beautiful Monarch Butterfly repeatedly banging up against my window. Pressing my face up against the glass I was surprised when I heard, in a high-pitched voice with a distinct British accent – upper crust, not Cockney – “Might I be allowed to come in for a moment?”

“There are paparazzi butterflies?” I said taken aback.

“Certainly not!” Mabel exhorted. “They are common moths, every single one of them.”

If you read this blog you will know that I seem to have gained a reputation with various insects lately. I was approached by Harold the Emerald Ash Borer to help explain that they really have tried other means of boring their beloved Ash trees, including reading to them from tax law textbooks. Then Basil Bumblebee dropped by to get some help drafting a news release to inform the world that bees are not randomly disappearing, but are going into hiding in an effort to avoid being used as “sniffer bees” to locate explosives. I even had a very enlightening chat with an earthworm lawyer one morning.

I opened the window and in flew the butterfly. Alighting on a leaf on a plant in my living room I could see that she had the magnificent colouring of a true Monarch. She thanked me and introduced herself, “My name is Mabel Monarch, but I believe protocol dictates that you call me Mam, we can certainly forgo the Your Majesty moniker. Would you perchance have a spot of tea? Earl Grey if possible. Sweet. Maybe a bickie as well, in crumbs please.”

I brought the saucer of sugary Earl Grey into the living room where Mabel had been looking over the titles in my bookcase. “Thank you so very much, I’m parched” she said. “You’re most welcome Mam, will Digestive do?” I replied. “How can I help you?”

“As you are no doubt aware, much has been written lately about the apparent declining number of Monarch Butterflies. This has been attributed to many things, most recently a lack of milkweed. As this is a favourite of we Monarchs, I can assure you we have plenty in storage. The real reason for our disappearance is more complex than mere missing nutrition.”

“You have my full attention Mam,” I replied. “Please tell me what is happening.”

She fluttered delicately over to the saucer for a moment, had a sip of tea then returned to her leaf. “Like many Monarchs, including the King of Spain, and even, although not a monarch, a recent Pope, we are abdicating to make way for new blood.”

“Abdicating? But why?”

“Being a monarch isn’t what it used to be. Time was all we had to do was flutter about looking beautiful and we were left unmolested. Now we are hounded every flap of the way by paparazzi clicking their cameras at us.”

“There are paparazzi butterflies?” I said taken aback.

“Certainly not!” Mabel exhorted. “They are common moths, every single one of them.”

“So you want me to get out the message that Monarch Butterflies aren’t disappearing because of a lack of milkweed, but rather are choosing to abdicate because of harassment by paparazzi.”

“Precisely. Thank you.”

… “I dub you one with a twitch”. But the more I consider it I think  she may actually have called me a dumb son of a bitch!

My curiosity was piqued and I wanted to know more about this abdication tactic. Mabel explained that there comes a time when it’s just right to step aside. Pope Benedict did it, Spain’s Juan Carlos has done it (rumours that he sang the apt Moxy Fruvous song, Once I was the King of Spain, have yet to be confirmed). There are those who wonder if Queen Elizabeth shouldn’t turn things over to her son Charles. “So you see it’s an age thing, a bowing to youth,” she concluded.

“But why, Mam, will the next generation be any better equipped to handle things?” I asked.

“They are born accustomed to it.”

“You mean the paparazzi are already taking pictures of them,” I asked.

“Not the paparazzi, the Pupa-razzi!”

We made small talk for a little while then Mabel said she had to get going. I opened the window for her and as she flitted out she placed what I’m sure was a small sword on my shoulder and I think she said, no doubt referring to my eye problem,  “I dub you one with a twitch”. But the more I consider it I think  she may actually have called me a dumb son of a bitch!

 Living Art: The Daily Post – what finer piece of art to come alive than nature’s own?

Me DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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