When The Monarchs Fly
©2017 Down The Shore Publishing Corp. All rights reserved
Chapter One — Autumn:
Of all the seasons of the year, Ellie would miss early Autumn the most. For that was when all the winged creatures came through Cape May on their long flight south. There were the seabirds who crowded the shorelines to eat their fill of small crabs, fattening and strengthening themselves to fly to Central or South America. There were high-flying hawks who brought a sense of sky-dazzle, of sky-danger. There were the neon blue and green dragonflies, zigging and zagging through the pretty yards of the old seaside resort. Old timers called them the devil’s sewing needles and said that if you weren’t careful, they’d sew your mouth shut. But, most pleasing of all to Ellie, were the Monarch butterflies. She thought they were the prettiest, the gentlest of all the migrators. In early September the first of them could be seen, bringing in their train thousands and thousands more, like a loose cloud stretching out over hundreds of miles. Their wings were a strong bright orange, sharply divided by curving strokes of black. People said that they looked like the stained glass windows in a church. But Ellie thought that that wasn’t right. Stained glass windows were too still, there was no movement to them.
To Ellie, everything about the Monarchs spoke of movement. She loved their crazy flight, that slow, graceful, jerky path they took through the air. They were like leaves falling, falling and catching themselves, rising and then falling again.It was as if they lived in a world where there were no straight lines. Only swoop and fall and glide and rise. When a Monarch flew through her own backyard, Ellie would run beside it and pretend she was one of them. She flapped her arms and she rose on tiptoe, then suddenly she would fall low, almost to her knees, twisting and duck-walking till she rose again with a happy cry. Often she got so dizzy she fell to the ground laughing.
In the few weeks that they sheltered in and around Cape May, the Monarchs clustered on the bushes and small trees. They were so thick that the bushes seemed to have changed color; their wings fluttered and the bushes seemed on fire. Then, when their time in Cape May was up, these frail creatures would head out over Delaware Bay toward their destination far to the south. To Ellie they seemed so brave. To go on that journey of a thousand miles, over sea and mountain and swamp and city!