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The Monarch Midwife

By Jim D'Aloisio -


Their fragile infeasibility, so tiny coming out of the egg, pawns against the weather and living predators, their mandate to feed -- first on their eggshells, then on the plant from which they hatched -- eating - growing - molting five times

until they stop, driven by an urge to climb and attach and surrender to complete self-reconstruction, change of state veiled within a small green capsule beneath their striped unfurling skin

then emergence, the need for moments -- of space - calm - stability -- and then the impulse toward flight, both the how and the knowing how, again compelled to feed, needing different sustenance now

readying for the big Flight across the world and returning home again.

A brief existence, one that requires them to completely contort and reconfigure again and again, yet they do -- they prove the impossible -- again and again, no planning no worrying, simply living what they are.

And I, with many times their lifespan, wonder what impossible changes lie ahead for you? or us?


Jim D'Aloisio is a 60-year-old structural engineer who has never been previously published, although he has authored hundreds of engineering reports. He is an advocate for effective action to mitigate anthropogenic climate change, focusing primarily on developing and communicating ways to reduce and reverse the effects caused by the built environment. For the past five years he has collected Monarch eggs, raised the caterpillars and released the butterflies from his screen porch - essentially practicing Monarch midwifery. This is not only an engaging hobby, but it serves as one small response to ameliorating the changes to natural systems that have resulted from human activities. Jim and his wife Linda live in Jamesville, NY with two Chihuahuas and, as of this writing, 14 caterpillars and 18 chrysalides. They have two grown daughters.

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