“I never knew my dad,” Harry says, looking out across a large field of milkweed, catching his breath after a three-generation flight. “Because, you know, I’m a monarch butterfly, and we have that crazy life-cycle thing. No time to stop for baseball games with pops, oh no. We’re just live, die, fly, brother; with a bit of eating and pupating mixed in there to keep the chain alive.”
As millions of Canadians settle down to enjoying Father’s Day – exchanging gifts, barbs, and warmth both spoken and unspoken, as they pause to recognize their male parentals with ties, golf magazine subscriptions, and ill-founded promises to take them to dinner in the coming weeks – spare a thought for the many who do not have a father present to thank, among them the recently-arrived monarch butterfly.
“Hey, I don’t want your pity,” Harry says, munching on milkweed, just grateful to have made it across the U.S.-Canada border before a wall, or hedge, or self-cooling ice fence was installed. “I’m just saying maybe be aware of some of your fellow terrestrials, like butterflies for example, who have limited access to gift packs of IPAs, and no dads to share them with even if we weren’t all but a month under the drinking age.”
The wind blows hard across the southern Ontario field. Harry watches families amble into a nearby Swiss Chalet, but says it’s cool, he can’t stand overly-salted fries anyway, though admits he’d kill for a little of that secret sauce on some vegetation.
“Look here’s the thing about dads. Everyone has one, except for parthenogenetic creatures such as some scorpions, water fleas, aphids, parasitic wasps, a few fish, the odd amphibian, and a handful of birds. And those guys just celebrate Mother’s Day twice. But for everyone else, at some stage someone got you rolling. In my case it was mid-migration in a Texas field. Mom had a nice pattern, dad knew he had three days left to live, and the rest is history.”
Harry pauses, and marshals his thoughts.
“What I’m getting at is this: If you still have a pops around then great, rub antennas with them. And if you don’t, do what I do man. Hang out in a field and enjoy the days that someone, somewhere, set in motion, intentionally or otherwise. Whether that person is here or not has no bearing on the strength of the sun on your thorax, and plays no role in the pleasure to be found in a light breeze brushing across the coastal margin of your hindwing. Is Father’s Day easy without a pops? No. Is your dad, like mine, looking down on us from that great big cocoon in the sky? Unless you’re also a butterfly, or there’s been some sort of mistake, I have to say it’s unlikely. But is it a Sunday in June with the Blue Jays threatening to sweep the Nationals, and only so many of these days to be enjoyed in our own brief tenure? Yes. Yes it is.”