I was born in Toronto, Canada, 57 years ago, and have lived here ever since. Every entertainment is within driving distance, we’re right on Lake Ontario, and the ravine is a quick 7 minute walk from my mid-town home.
As a child, I took lots of lessons, attended after school language school and Sunday School, did all my homework and practicing, but still had lots of time left over to go to the ravine at the end of the street with my friends. We would disappear for hours, coming home only to eat. We’d get soakers in the river, fall in the mud, and get scraped by the branches of the trees we were climbing. We’d come home and clean ourselves up. Our parents didn’t worry about the dangers, not mine, anyway.
University was challenging, especially graduate school. Long bike rides and time spent at the conservation areas were great stress relievers, and cleared my head for the school work that needed to be done. Fun, relaxing, stimulating, fit…. I could still get it all from a trip into nature. My boyfriend taught me to look for caterpillars. We got married. We have been raising monarchs for over thirty years, albeit it in separate houses in recent times.
When the kids were young, caterpillar hunting was a favourite family activity at the cottage. We would celebrate every discovery; it felt like finding money. We would revel at every stage of growth. When the butterfly was born, we would grab every cottager that passed by to show off our baby, then we would take a few photos. Just a few, because they were expensive.
Fast forward fifteen years. The kids are grown, but they still enjoy watching the process and often participating. My day job as a Personal Fitness Trainer to older adults allows me to bring my monarch cages to their beautiful properties. Just about everyone is thrilled to watch a butterfly emerge. It’s an experience they never forget. And if they get to release it… wow! I get to share in their joy, and take lots of pictures of the newborn monarch in their wonderful gardens.
About five years ago, I started making online photo books. I chose my best caterpillar and butterfly photos of the season, and showed them to my friends. They were so excited about the process, and the photos, that many of them urged me to publish a book. For years I thought they were just being polite. I finally relented, and to my delight, the manuscript was quickly accepted by a major publisher. The book is written in language that kids of all ages can embrace. The publisher even allowed some of my humour. My passion for monarchs, photography, and conservation, as detailed in the book, is now widely accessible in bookstores, parks, butterfly conservatories, science and nature shops, and libraries. It is my hope that the raising of monarch butterflies will be your gateway into the natural world around you, and that by loving it, you will preserve it. Discover it. Love it. Protect it.
Carol Pasternak, LLb, MBA, CPT, and now…..
The Monarch Crusader