Local Women Sets Out to Save Monarch Population and Loses Shoe
today at 8:00 am
First, let me admit that it’s me. I’m the local women. It all started two years ago when my aunt gave me 5 microscopic monarch eggs to take back to my apartment in Virginia. I raised them from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, and finally beautiful black and orange butterflies. I was hooked.
Last year, I raised 80. This year? I’m setting out to raise 500. Why? Well for one, I’m not doing anything else this summer but writing to you lovely folks, trying to finish my first novel, walking 30,000 steps a day, working my main job, and my side hustle slinging nail polish. It’s not like all of that keeps me busy or anything. Hey this is what happens when you are 35, single, childless, and live in a 280 square foot recreational vehicle. Oy.
So as anyone in Chicagoland may have noticed over the last, well what feels like FOREVER, we have had SO. MUCH. RAIN. It never stops. But the quest to raise 500 monarch must go on. Not only do I have to go out daily and collect eggs, but I also have to collect milkweed to keep these hungry little caterpillars fed. That book was no joke. These little yellow and black striped critters eat, and eat… and eat.
So three days ago, there was a break in the rain which made it the perfect time to go out and look for eggs. Only issue is I’ve already reached all the milkweed in walking distance along the road on our 120 acre farm, so on this specific day I thought I better head out to the fields in search of more flutter butter friends. Great Idea. NOT.
After a .75 mile walk to the south end of the farm, I made a turn to walk around the back of the farm. I was slightly worried about the mud I might encounter, but after the first 10 feet or so I realized it wasn’t so bad! Then I walked another 10 feet and down about 8-12 inches my feet slid into the slimy, quite stinky, tilled slop. I hadn’t even made it to my first milkweed plant yet, and my feet were already covered in mud so I trudged on. I found some milkweed and walked up the side of the farm a bit to less muddy land and looked down. There had to be two inches of mud covering my feet and legs in all directions.
Now that I was walking on grass, things got even more precarious as what I can only describe as a five year olds mud pie developed on the bottom of my $150 Teva sandals. Let me explain to you how important these sandals are to you. I’m cheap when it comes to clothes and shoes. I don’t know a thing about fashion. In 2018, I was going to Spain. It would be hot. I would be walking A LOT and I needed practical shoes to wear.
After spending forever in shoe stores trying to find hiking sandals that didn’t feel like a straight jacket, I came across this black pair of Teva’s. I’m not a name brand person by any means but boy, these sandals fit like a glove. I looked at the price tag. $150 dollars. About $130 more than I have ever spent on a pair of shoes in my lifetime. But don’t worry, since Spain, I have worn this very pair of shoes every single day unless I was at work, in my bed, or there was more than a dusting of snow on the ground. I kid you not, these shoes have been on my feet more than they were not over the last three years.
And beautifully did they hold up. That was until I walked back down in the mud and decided to walk a little further. The more I walked between the grass and mud, the heavier my feet became to lift. I mean great workout and all, especially since every step I took was basically one of those knee up things. Yea, I’m not a fitness guru.
Then the unthinkable, unimaginable, and heartbreaking happened. I pulled my foot up out of the mud, and my sandal was gone. GONE. I didn’t want to lose the other one so I sunk my hand down to the firm soil under the slop, grabbed the shoe and stood barefoot. Next I would need to find the shoe. I searched and searched in the mud for the counterpart to the left shoe sitting in the grass next to me.
It took a while, but after losing one of my most precious possessions, I found it… but… the strap was broken. My heart sank, but I had to go on. I held the what felt like 20 pounds of dirt and shoes in my hand as I walked further through the mud. I felt a bit like a child as I made my way from one milkweed plant to the next.
Of course the rain returned so I made the mile long trek back home, barefoot. I stopped at the hose with my 38 monarch eggs and 15 large milkweed leaves to rinse my shoes and legs. Mud had spattered all the way up my legs, onto my shorts and even my shirt. I swear when I jumped in the shower a few minutes later, I even found mud in my hair.
And you know what? Despite the tear in the strap by my ankle, I have worn the sandals every day since. Maybe it’s time for a new pair? Eh. I think I’ll ride these ones out as long as I can. Plus in about 24-28 days, I’ll have 38 beautiful monarchs to show for it. Priceless.
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