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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Alone Time for Bow and Monarch Butterflies

If you have ever raised a teen-aged boy, then you know they need alone time. It is no different with Bow. There was a time when he was a tiny baby, clinging to me for dear life and upset if I walked away for a moment. But that time is not now. He is thirteen, going on fourteen, and sometimes he tells me in no uncertain terms that I need to leave.

Now when I say that he tells me in no uncertain terms, I do not mean that he is not polite. Sometimes he even makes it sound as if it is about me. He will spell out that I should go outside, and if I ask him why, he says "because it is good", and he makes it sound as if he is thinking about my well-being, and it all seems so sweet. But certain clues on my return let me know why he needed that alone time.

Do chimpanzee get embarrassed? Yes, if they have been raised with humans. And even though Bow has less privacy than a normal human teenager in the arrangement that we have here, he does contrive to do some things in private.

Bow looking at models in the fall issue of Bazaar

Have I been thinking about his social needs? Of course. Do I want him to have chimpanzee friends and a girl friend? Yes. But his chimpanzee friends can't be savages, either. Bow is civilized. He needs civilized friends. Friends who knock on his door, respect his privacy and do not just come barging in. He also needs to be shielded from "inspectors" who think they can come and look at him any time they like. He needs the right to privacy, the right to refuse admission and all the other rights that he has come to take for granted. And if he works, he needs the right to negotiate over pay, and the right to set limits as to what he will or will not do. The people who talk about chimpanzees being "legal persons" actually don't intend to give the chimpanzees in their "sanctuaries" any of these rights. It's a sham.

So, yes, I go on these long walks chasing butterflies for my own amusement, but also to give Bow a breather from having to constantly behave like a gentleman around his mother. And sometimes he tells me in words, which are spelled, but at other times he very gently takes me by the shoulder, turns me around and points to the door. He is so sweet in the way he firmly, but with all due respect, lets me know when my presence is not needed.

A Monarch Butterfly in the neighbors' pasture across the fence

Lately, in my long walks, it has come to my attention that there are, in fact,  Monarchs among us. I spot them in my pasture. I spot them in the neighbors' pasture. But they are always far away, and when they fly, they fly high, and I can never seem to get the same sorts of photos of them that I can of the Common Buckeye, the Pearl Crescent, the Red-spotted Purple or the Eastern Tailed-blue. Not to mention the Great Spangled Fritillary when the purple milkweed is blooming.

Yesterday afternoon, I spotted a lone Monarch in the neighbors' pasture across the fence, and as I was watching, it actually flew over the fence, almost straight at me, but in zigzags. over my head, right past my left eye, and through my orchard to my pasture. But I did not get one clear shot!

The Monarch in Flight Moving Closer
The best that I could do was see a very small portion of its wings as it flew right past my face.

Can you tell it's a Monarch from this snippet of its wings?
And even though it was my own pasture it disappeared into, I could not follow it there. Too much poison ivy!

The Monarch flying through my orchard
In the evening, when I went to feed the kitten in the barn, I saw a Monarch resting high in an oak tree at the edge of my woods.

A Monarch resting on an oak leaf
This is my chance, I thought. It is evening and the Monarch is resting, so I can come in for a better shot.

Monarch flitting away

But when the Monarch saw me, it just flitted away. I guess even butterflies need their privacy! They want to rest far from prying eyes.


  1. We mostly have monarch butterflies here in Southern California, and they are hard to capture on film and photograph. I see them every day on my bicycle ride home, but I gave up trying to film them because only a couple have ever been compliant.

    1. Hi, Julia. You are lucky to be able to see Monarchs every day, even if they will not stop and pose. I know there are Monarchs here, but I do not even see them every day. They are very hard to track down, compared to other butterflies.