Can the beauty of nature distract us from the reality of what changes in her behavior can mean in our world? One of the most beautiful of nature’s creatures is the butterfly, majestic and noble, with a grace that captures the hearts and souls of many naturists. A change in the migration patterns of these beauteous creatures would be an anomaly to the science world, but could bring about misunderstanding in the community that becomes their home.
In Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver we are taken into a place in Appalachia where a rare and concerning change in behavior of the monarch butterflies has changed the behavior of a family and a town. The lives of the Turnbow family become inextricably linked with the migration as the butterflies choose to settle on a part of their property that has been slated for clear-cut.
Dellarobia Turnbow feels like an outcast in her family. Caught up in marriage at an early age she still finds herself craving that something more. On her way to an assignation that will change her life, she feels a chill of premonition of how this will affect her life. The thought of her children and her marriage create sadness, but the excitement pulls her.
Heading into the wilderness area of the property owned by the family for generations, one that has been slated for clear-cut, she is startled by the vision of the sky in flame. The orange color broils and twists, in a show of beauty and danger. To her, this is a clear sign she cannot resist. Turning and making her way back to the life she now lived, she felt the vision was a sending from God.
Not sure how to move forward though, she finely tells her husband that he needs to walk the area, and make sure that his father is doing the right thing with selling the timber off. After pushing in this direction, she is finally vindicated when he acquiesces and follows her up into the mountain. The discovery of the butterflies is interpreted as an act of god, and turns the town on their heads. The influx of entomologists and the involvement of the news turn the countryside into a place of curiosity.
This is a beautiful piece of work describing the changes made with global warming, and how the effects of weather disturb the natural progression of the seasons. As the changes evolve, so does the Turnbow family begin their own evolution. A family entrenched in their beliefs, they move inexorable towards a truth that life must change.
To stay the same in beliefs and work in their own little places in the world does not change the tides of nature. Kingsolver gives us a story full of heart, and heartache, delivering the tribulations of a family in denial and crisis. She uses the advent of beauty to bring out the depth of secrets lodged in a family mired in lies and pain. The truth of nature seems to guide her characters to their own truths, and a healing that is necessary.
Will the migration actually create the ending for these beautiful creatures as well as the end of a family held together by deception?
Flight Behavior is an interesting take on global warming, but it also takes you into the personal lives of a family that has hidden much of their pain and existed in a vacuum of hope that tugs at your heart.
If you enjoy finding the beauty in nature, and the overcoming of personal turmoil, you will enjoy Flight Behavior. The description of events is amazing and beyond the scope of expectation. This would be a great work for a reading group or discussion group.