A super generation of monarchs led by their fearless leader, Beaucup, migrate to Mexico.
A soft rustling sound interrupted Beaucup pondering the migration to Mexico. He looked down the branch and another butterfly was breaking free from his chrysalis. The newborn monarch stumbled to the top of the limb and turned towards him. “Mornin',” he said. “Lenny's the name.”
“Beaucup. Pleased to meet you.”
The two approached each other and shook wings.
Lenny asked, “You the Firster?”
“So I've been told.”
“Good luck with that!”
Then they chatted for a while. The two discussed many subjects but mainly the journey ahead and their love of the woodland. In short, they became each other's first monarch friend. Friendships form fast when you live nine months.
“Well, Lenny, time to test the old wings out.”
“You go right ahead. Mine need to harden some more.”
“All right, see you in a while. By the way, you can call me Beau. Well, wish me luck.”
“Luck,” said Lenny.
Beaucup closed his eyes.“Three, two, one …”
“Hey, Beau.” The hesitant aviator had remained on the branch. “Having some first flight jitters?”
“A question crossed my mind as I said 'one'.”
“Can we trust these things?” He moved his delicate wings up and down.They each observed the distance between the branch and the green earth below.
“Well, I suppose,” said Lenny, “whoever made them would not have put them there if they couldn't work.”
Beaucup considered Lenny's answer. He decided it to be correct.
“Three, two, one ...” and this time he lifted off, his wings fluttering in the crisp morning air. After dipping down a ways, he flapped even faster to return to the height of takeoff. His little heart thumped excitedly as he discovered the give and take of breezes. He glanced at his left wing, then at his right wing, then to the ground thirty feet below. Panic struck. Having lost confidence in his ability to fly, Beaucup's little mind went blank and he plummeted down. He only flapped his left wing. “Oh, dear.” He stopped the left wing and commenced with the right one. “Oh, dear, dear!” The ground fast approached. Moments before crash landing on a large white boulder, he got his wing-flapping back in sync and softly touched down. “Overall, not so bad,” thought Beaucup.
Taking off again, he flew over bright colorful flowers, patches of soft green grass, narrow dirt trails, and glistening streams. Throughout this second flight, a broad smile stretched across his face. When he ascended toward the sky, rising higher and higher, thousands of monarchs lifted off from the trees behind him. They looked more like autumn leaves than butterflies. Samuel, who was watching from the pond, delighted in the annual firework show.
After landing in a clearing of beech and maple trees, Beau paced about absentmindedly. “I thought of something earlier and now I've forgotten it. What is it? Samuel advised me on it. Think! What have I forgotten?”
Lenny, having completed his short maiden flight, had landed beside him. “Well, let's see, you've been alive for about three hours.” He then asked each successive question louder. “Did you think of it in the first hour? Or maybe the second? Or could it be more recent?”
Beaucup remembered. “The Speech! The annual Speech of Departure! I have to give the Speech of Departure!”
He did not necessarily have to give the Speech of Departure. But as Samuel had explained, the tradition dated back thousands of years and Beaucup deeply believed in tradition. Lenny watched him zoom by and disappear into the woods. Shortly thereafter, Beau returned to the other side of the clearing carefully holding parchment paper and pen between his antennae. Without making a sound, he sat back against the trunk of a maple tree and separated the three sheets of paper.
Lenny, who continued to look the direction Beau had flown, exclaimed, “No one said anything about Hide and Seek.”
Beaucup did not respond; he was busy writing.
Then Lenny said at the top of his voice, “All right Beau, I give up. Where'd you go?”
“Lenny!” said Beaucup, even louder.
Lenny leapt five feet into the air and after returning to ground turned to glare at his new friend.
“I'm trying to write. I need some quiet right now.”
“Don't ever do that again, pal!” Lenny stated firmly. He was spelling out the first ground-rule of their friendship. Then he pretended to observe nature. This was almost as bothersome as his loud questions. Beaucup continued writing. He framed the speech into three sections: introduce the flight crew, go over a few major details, and end with the boldest proposal ever proposed by a monarch leader.
Having completed the speech — except for the naming of his flight crew — he rolled up the three sheets and placed them underneath two large maple leaves. He advised Lenny he had some thinking to do and fluttered away.
After riding the wind for a few minutes, he landed on a dandelion in an open field. It did not take rocket entomology for him to realize he faced two big challenges. First, how would he convey a message to millions of monarchs? Flying over, he passed over Orangefield Falls. It was the perfect location to deliver the speech, but how could he let them know of the place and the time to be there? Second — and a more serious matter — they were terrible at flying. He discovered this on his maiden flight and by observing the others around him. The butterflies appeared as if they could not decide which way to go, changing direction every half second. How could they fly to Mexico, much less even make it out of Canada? He looked to the sky where divine intervention helped solve both problems.
Beneath white cotton clouds, a broad-winged hawk glided in large circles. Beaucup wondered what this type of flying was all about and ascended for a visit. Half way up he felt a mysterious force lift his body. “So that's what he's up to.” A few minutes later, he flew alongside the sharp-eyed bird.
“My, my, little butterfly, why so high in the sky?” asked the hawk.
“Hello, I am Beaucup.”
“Henry the Hawk, my little countryman.”
“I noticed you flying in circles. We have much ground to cover and don't fly so well and could you explain the circles?”
“What's to explain! Thermals, my little countryman.”
“Catch a thermal and you're ridin' on top of the world,” Henry sang, smiling.
Beaucup, still confused, asked, “What's a thermal?”
“The column of air you're riding on right now, the warm air rising from the ground. Just glide in circles on top of one and as it moves, you move. A hundred miles some days with a few flaps of the wings.”
“My, my little butterfly. So many questions high in the sky. Columns collapse, so you have to catch another.”
“How do know where the columns are?”
“Look for small items swirling up in the sky.”
“It's that simple?” asked Beaucup.
“That simple!” said the hawk.
“I see. Thanks for the advice, Henry. See you.”
As Beaucup spiraled back down toward the fields, he heard a puttering sound in the distance. A mysterious object moved through the sky, and its wingspan left him agasp. As the object drew closer, the sound grew louder and louder. What really captured Beaucup's attention flapped in the wind behind it. A large banner read: ORANGEFIELD MOTORS NOW OPEN SUNDAYS.
Minutes later, he descended like a feather onto a goldenrod. He rested there and considered all he had been learned in such a short time: how to soar; how to convey a message to millions of monarchs; and how it helps to ask for advice.