Beaucup meets his first monarch friend, Lenny, and learns how to soar.
Where Beaucup Meets Lenny And Learns About Soaring
A rustling sound from just down the branch interrupted Beaucup pondering about migration to Mexico. Another monarch broke free from his chrysalis, stumbled to the top of the limb, and said, “Mornin', Lenny's the name.”
“Beaucup. Pleased to meet you.”
The two approached each other and, shaking wings, Lenny asked, “You the Firster?”
“So I've been told.”
“Good luck with that!”
The two began to chat about the peaceful woodland and the journey ahead and, in short, 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, Beaucup. Mine need to harden up a little more.”
“All right, see ya in a while. Oh, by the way, you can call me Beau. Well, wish me luck.”
“Luck,” said Lenny.
Beaucup lifted off, and his delicate wings fluttered in the crisp morning air. He dipped down a bit and flapped his wings faster until he rose to the height of his takeoff. Feeling the give and take of breezes, his little heart thumped excitedly. He glanced at his left wing, at his right wing, and then to the ground, thirty feet below. Panic struck the first-time aviator. After plummeting down and landing on a round, chalk white boulder, he thought to himself, “Not so bad.” Taking off a second time, Beaucup glided over bright colorful flowers, patches of soft green grass, narrow dirt trails, and a glistening stream, all the while, with a smile across his face. Then he ascended toward the sky. As he flew higher and higher, thousands of monarchs lifted off from the trees behind him, and they looked more like autumn leaves than butterflies. Samuel, who had been viewing this from his pond, delighted in the annual fireworks show.
After touching down in a clearing among some beech trees, Beau paced about absentmindedly. “I thought of something earlier and now I've forgotten it. What is it? Think! What have I forgotten?”
Lenny, who had completed his maiden flight, and landed beside him, said, “Well, let's see, you've been alive for about three hours.” Then asking 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!”
It was not mandatory he give the Speech of Departure, but the tradition dated back thousands of years, and Beaucup believed in tradition. Lenny, who stood on the edge of the clearing, watched him zoom by and disappear into the woods. Shortly thereafter, Beau returned to the other side of the clearing, somehow holding parchment paper and pen between his antennae. Without making a sound (even Lenny, just a few feet away, did not hear him), he sat back against a trunk and separated the three sheets of paper.
Lenny, continuing to look the direction Beau flew away, exclaimed, “No one said anything about Hide and Seek.”
Beaucup did not respond; he was busy writing.
Then 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 landing, turned around to glare at his friend.
“I'm trying to write. I need some quiet right now.”
“Don't ever do that again, pal!” Lenny stated firmly, spelling out the first ground-rule of their friendship. Then he pretended to be observing nature, which was almost as bothersome as his loud questions. Beaucup continued writing the speech. He framed it 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.
Completing the speech — except for naming flight crew members — he rolled up the three sheets and placed them beneath two large maple leaves. He advised Lenny he had some thinking to do and fluttered away.
After riding the wind for a minute or so, he touched down on a dandelion in an open field. It did not take rocket entomology for him to realize he faced two big problems. First, how could he convey a message to thousands of monarchs? Flying over, he noticed the perfect location to deliver the speech, but how could he let the monarchs know the time and place. Second — and a more serious matter — they were terrible at flying. He discovered it 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 make it out of Canada? He looked to the sky where divine intervention helped to solve both problems.
Beneath white cotton clouds, a broad-winged hawk glided in large circles. As Beaucup ascended to meet him, he suddenly felt a mysterious force lift his body. “So that's what he's up to.” A few minutes later, he flew up alongside the bright-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 said, 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 without the flap of a wing.”
“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 ya.”
As Beaucup spiraled downward, he heard a puttering sound in the distance. When he looked the direction of the sound, a mysterious object moved through the sky with a wingspan that left him agasp. As the object drew closer, the puttering sound grew louder and louder. But what really captured Beaucup's attention flapped in the wind behind it. A large banner read: ORANGEFIELD MOTORS NOW OPEN SUNDAYS.
Minutes later, after touching down like a feather on a goldenrod, he rested and considered all he had learned: (1) how to soar; (2) how to convey a message to millions of monarchs; and (3) how it helps to ask for advice.