Monarch butterfly update

     The news just came to my inbox that the monarch butterflies have finally arrived at their roosting site in Mexico!  They are late this year, and still coming in.  According to the citizen-science website Journey North (in this case Journey South!), the numbers are down.  Counts and measurements will happen in December, which will give a real picture of the North American population, since they all roost in this one spot.  To see pictures of their arrival, and the trees where they spend the winter, visit this website and click around: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/fall2013/update111413.html#news.  Meanwhile, let's plant butterfly gardens next spring, and start thinking about those "weedy places" that host milkweed as vital nurseries that shouldn't be mowed or bush-hogged until October.  
     May the overwintering monarchs be safe from storms and cold.  May we all be safe from storms and cold.


Divide and Conjure

     Everything was all set.  This was Family Weekend at Meg's new college.  The hotel reservation was made, the housesitter lined up, the tickets to Meg's Friday evening choral concert waiting for us at Will Call, and dinner reservations for five – five! – made at the restaurant she chose. It was picture-perfect.
      Then, in a remarkable week, not only did the Red Sox win the World Series, but Anna's Varsity soccer team beat a higher seeded competitor in the State championship quarter-finals, and they would be playing in the semi-finals for the first time in fifteen years! On Saturday! At 5:00! Right during Meg's second concert two hundred miles away!
      “It's all right Mama, I understand, you should go, I know how much you want to hear Meg sing,” Anna told me. With her permission, I could keep the picture I had been carrying in my heart intact. Meg in a long black dress, singing classical choral music on risers, the rich sounds of men's and women's voices rolling out over the concert hall. And the next night, Meg in a group of twelve women, singing “Bennie and the Jets” a capella, their short skirts and animated faces keeping time before a full house of cheering students and families.
      Except, Anna wouldn't be there.
      “It's ok Mom, you should be there for Anna,” Meg said on the phone. She had played in championship high school games, and she knew how important it was to have her family in the stands. She was giving me permission to imagine a new picture of my weekend, one with Anna's team in their uniforms and cleats, and parents filling aluminum bleachers and wild cheering and watching the scoreboard and being ready for the emotional elation or despondency afterwards. And then coming home with my girl in the front seat next to me, sleeping in the next morning, being there with her. It was a good picture, just different.
       Each of my daughters was ready to divide their sense of wholeness – of the family that roots for them – for the other. Because of them, I began to conjure up a third possibility in which I could spend one day with each. The details filled in, thanks to Bob and Andrew, the house-sitter, team-mates' families, and a Prius. The distance was not so far. I had a new picture in my heart as Friday approached, not of a heart divided in two, but of two wholenesses.
      The way it turned out was that Meg lost her voice over the course of the weekend, and Anna's team lost the game. But it was a great weekend. I think we all would agree.