Speech of Departure
Speech of Departure
As the sun rose the monarchs warmed their wings in the chill of an autumn morning. They also chirped like crickets on a summer evening, their chattering scattering far and wide, until everyone knew the way to Orangefield Falls. This network of communication was almost as miraculous as the migration itself and would prove invaluable on their long journey. With wings warmed to the extent the chill would allow, the monarchs lifted off in droves. Shortly thereafter, like great armies in the sky (but peaceful), butterflies descended from all directions upon the breathtaking area.
The Orangefield River cascaded over a mile-wide treeless ridge exactly in its middle. The limestone ridge ran east to west and formed a ninety-degree angle with a green rye field that stretched out until it met the southern horizon. Sunlight brightened the ridge's soft white chalk. From the bottom of the falls, the river cut across the field and divided it in halves. As long row after long row formed on each side of the river, the ground began to resemble two enormous orange carpets. And this was no ordinary generation of monarchs. Using their wings like flash cards, they spelled out GO on one side of the field and BEAU on the other. When the young leader appeared atop the ridge (the ridge being a mere ten feet high but looking like Niagara Falls to the butterflies), a roar ascended from below and some chanted, “Hail the King!” Beau improvised on his speech and addressed the crowd with his first words. “Please … there will be no monarchs … that is … no kings on this continent.”
Three butterflies stood across from Beaucup: one to his left, one to his right, and one directly in front of him. Each held a page of the speech. An opinionated butterfly in the crowd named Walter told the monarch beside him, “They say he's a great orator, but all he does is read from that darn parch-prompter.”
Beaucup continued, “I would like to begin by introducing our flight crew for the migration. Lenny, please step forward.” As Lenny approached Beau, the crowd applauded with their wings, but it made no sound. Maybe the slightest hint of a faint breeze, but certainly not applause. Nevertheless, Lenny took in the mostly silent wing movement as a sign of acceptance. Beau chose Lenny as his Right-Wing Man because he had been born right next to him. And even though Lenny would question many of his ideas along the migration, Beaucup never wavered in his choice, having been born right next to him. “By the power vested in me from those … who vest powers … I hereby declare you to be Right-Wing Man.” Another roar of approval arose from the crowd, and Lenny began to bow. Beaucup was ready to introduce the next position, but he noticed Lenny continuing to bow. “That will be all, Lenny.” The Right-Wing-Man slowly backed up.
Beau asked for Catalina to step forward. She began to inch her way toward him but stopped. Hesitating there, the talented monarch thought to herself, “These butterflies will be putting their lives in my hands and need to know I can do this. And I can do this! That's why Beau selected me.” She moved toward the young leader with more assertive steps until reaching his side.
“Catalina, I hereby name you Chief Scout, and request moving forward you go by Scout. Your duties will consist of flying ahead and reporting back any danger ....”
Murmuring sprung from below: Danger ... who said anything of danger ... what does he mean by danger?
“that is, any minor problems ....”
All right ... we can handle minor problems ... right ... yeah, we're okay with minor problems.
“and to find appropriate places for nourishment and resting.” The audience applauded and Catalina, moved by the ceremony, stepped back.
Finally, he called upon Dawner to step forward. Dawner, with no concerns about demeanor, his demeanor being over the top, boldly stepped to a point one foot ahead of Beaucup. “Hmm,” said Beaucup, taking note of this. “My good friend, seeing as we've known each other for a day or so now, I appoint you to perhaps the most important position of all: Path Specialist. Even though, as butterflies, we will sense which direction to go, a slight turn here or there may be required of you.” The monarchs looked subdued after this announcement. They were skeptical of someone else telling them which way to go. “Thank you, Dawner,” and the Path Specialist stepped back between Lenny and Scout.
“Now in regard to the migration, our journey is long and the days are short.” Beaucup continued with the rest of the speech and then came to its conclusion.
“And so my light-winged friends, I end with this: We have been the greatest migratory movement going for thousands
of years, yet very few pay us the respect we deserve. I have been thinking on that and have determined we need a new
name; a nickname, if you will, that gives credence to our remarkable feat. Henceforth, moving forward. we will be
known as —— the Magnificent Monarchs!”
Absolute silence greeted the boldest proposal ever proposed by a monarch leader. That is until Lenny said in a deadpan voice, “Jeez Beau, we’re just butterflies. A good thunderstorm can eliminate a hundred-thousand of us.”
Beaucup gave Lenny a perplexed look and then gazed down at his troops. “Now in the past, we have traveled individually to Mexico, but this year I want us to make the journey together. This year let us migrate as the Magnificent Monarchs. Are there any questions?”
A low buzz began as thousands of butterflies consulted among each other, the buzz steadily growing louder and louder until it reached a deafening level and stopped. Then Beaucup heard from below (all at once but slightly out-of-unison), “Why is this place called Orangefield Falls?”
Beaucup looked at the falls which descended into the river which cut across the orange field. He turned to his crew and said, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” Then he exclaimed, “It is time for the migration to begin!”
“We have a problem with that,” said Scout.
“What do you mean a problem?”
“One butterfly insists she is staying.”
A look of astonishment overcame Beaucup and he stated in a loud voice, “Is she staying! There's no staying! There's no staying in monarch migration!” Then he quietly asked, “What's her name and where is she?”
“Her name is Molly, and I last saw her fishing at Clover Leaf Pond.”
“Do you know her, Scout?”
Beaucup, wanting a little more information than yes, said, “Well?”
“She is very sweet, but stubborn.”
“I see,” said Beaucup. “Sweet, but stubborn.”
The monarch leader was faced with his first decision regarding the timing of the migration. It did not take him long to decide and, after doing so, turned to his flight crew and said, “I will be back as soon as possible. Hold the troops at bay.”
Then Beaucup fluttered away from the ridge in search of a sweet, stubborn butterfly.