I first noticed the butterflies a few weeks ago, while walking my son through the neighborhood. Pushing his stroller along the sidewalk, houses and pavement- our typical scenery, I was struck. In our concrete jungle of a community- butterflies. Painted lady butterflies everywhere. Landing on my shoulder, resting on my bumping stroller and flying overhead. Was I seeing things? Is this a sign? Maybe I’m just paying more attention.
Weeks go by, and they haven’t left. I still see them in droves on my walks, and the cat has left a trail of butterfly wings on the path leading to our front door. I find them tucked into bushes, hiding among autumn leaves and perched silently on my lawn.
I had to know what was happening. With the help of google, I did some research. No- I was not seeing things, there were definitely more butterflies in the Denver area.
As I spent some time uncovering facts and logic about Painted Ladies I discovered what exactly was laying behind this divine miracle. All research led to the changing climate, and nature’s way of adapting to the change. Painted ladies migrate, not surprisingly, from North to South in the fall. In North America, that journey starts in Canada and northern United States during the late summer, and ends in Mexico in the winter. Meaning that they are almost always visible in the fall in Colorado.
They don’t travel in typical straight south patterns, instead following wind currents down to warmer weather. This usually means meandering, winding and sometimes circular paths that eventually land in the south. This year however, they painted ladies are spending abnormal amounts of time in the Colorado area. What is leading to this, is the globally changing climate and extreme weather.
The northwestern hemisphere has been dominated by changing wind patterns- being a direct clue as to what is happening with these winged ladies. It should be no secret that hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have caused incredible damage to our country and continent. So the painted ladies are here now, influenced by the changing winds. While they have surely been impacted, these resilient, beautiful bugs have adapted, and are still as beautiful and magical as before.
They have been creating miracles here. In Colorado, weather radar could pick up so many butterflies- it looked as though large flocks of birth were migrating passed. In reality- it is just these painted ladies- spreading there love and joy across a city that typically only sees them for a couple of weeks at most.
I think about what the butterfly means.
Maybe growth and transformation doesn’t have a clear cut and dry beginning and end. Maybe transformation doesn’t stop when you become a butterfly. Transformation occurs in subtle adaptations to our environment, not just majestic life changing phenomena, like the caterpillar morphing into the butterfly. These butterflies have brought magic and wonder to this city- simply by adapting to a changing climate. They found how to embrace their innate beauty in a previously harsh environment, making where they’re at more beautiful and magical in the process. These butterflies have taught me that we are never done growing and changing. We grow, our environments change in reaction to us and then we grow to adapt and be our best selves. The work is never done. No set of circumstances despite how perfect they may seem, will allow you to be your perfect self. That self is already within you.
“We are already whole, healed and free.”

Sending Love,

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