Nomi Wagner Portrait Artist

Taking Flight

by Nomi Wagner

When Gerry and I visited the Space Shuttle Endeavour, at the California Science Center, we also viewed the 3D Imax movies of “Hubble” and “Flight of the Butterflies.” Everything we saw that day was beyond belief, and trying to grasp the feats of the huge spacecraft and the fragile butterflies was mind-boggling.

The Western Monarch butterflies migrate from breeding areas as far north as Washington. Hundreds of thousands of monarchs overwinter in groves along the coast of California. Amazingly, it takes at least four generations to complete the cycle, meaning that the butterflies returning home to Washington could be the great, great grandkids of the grandmas and grandpas who began the journey early the previous year!

We are fortunate to have some of the butterfly groves close to where we live. I took these photos last Saturday at the Coronado Butterfly Preserve in Goleta, CA, just north of Santa Barbara. To preserve their strength, the butterflies hang in leaf-like clusters from the eucalyptus trees. If you’re lucky and the air temperature is sufficiently warm, you can see them fly off in a “burst” to get nourishment. I got to see one burst, and it was dazzling. Watching the exquisite butterflies was awe-inspiring and mesmerizing. I didn’t want to leave them, but we did and then got very lost in the grove trying to get back to our car. Butterflies and space shuttles have it all over us when it comes to finding their way home!