Photo of Monarch Grove Sanctuary - Pacific Grove, CA, United States. Clump of resting monarchs
A small “clump” of sleeping monarchs.

The Monterey/Carmel region is one of my favorites, but it wasn’t until today that I visited the Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. This 2-3 acre preserve is the over-wintering spot for thousands of Monarch butterflies.

As a kid in NY we planted milkweed to provide habitat for the monarch caterpillars and even did the whole caterpillars to chrysalis to butterfly hatching project.

But nothing, nothing compares to seeing this many monarchs in the wild. I am totally blown away by these serene and FREE experience.  

We arrived around 10:30 am and there wasn’t much activity. We peered through the trees and Spanish moss… Suddenly we realized what looked like brown grape clusters or pinecones were actually the sleeping butterflies.

The darker brown is a clump of monarchs in the middle of the grove waiting to warm/wake up.

Pesticide use, global climate change, sprawl, and illegal logging of the forests where they migrate for the winter. Several visitors commented on how the eucalyptus trees in this preserve used to be dripping with butterflies. Only a few smaller clumps could be seen on the Monterey Pines near the center of the grove.

We wandered down the path remarking about the butterfly-friendly plants in this area. Bottlebrush, Butterfly bush, and more dot the landscape, trying to lure more of these precious creatures to their favorite spot.

As the day started to warm up and the sun pierced through the branches, the monarchs took flight, like hundreds of orange and black birds.

Visitors old and young craned their necks skyward to catch the scene.  It was an amazing way to start the day and one more “must see” to add to my list for each future visit.

Why am I in Monterey you might ask? I’m in town all week for my Association’s 127th annual meeting. It’s the 4th annual meeting I’ve been through with them, and also my last. I titled this blog migration not just because of the butterflies, but because I am in the middle of migrating my career once again.

In the grove, I had the chance to think about how much significance butterflies have had in my life. Butterflies and rebirth were the theme for my divorce as I re-emerged and decided to live life on my own terms. I choose to live out loud and in color like a butterfly with emerald, absynthe and amethyst underlights which are my signature hair style. And like a monarch returning to familiar grounds for the winter, I am returning to corporate public relations in the healthcare sector.

As the daughter of two pharmaceutical researchers (mom and dad met at Bristol Myers Squibb), we learned about clinical trials and FDA reviews at the kitchen table. In fact, in my family we sat on the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) instead of the phone book. When I completed grad school and went looking for a PR job, the health sector came naturally. I spent a year with Edelman in NYC covering some cardiology and MS products, then spent a few years with Fleishman Hillard covering medical devices, electronic prescriptions and other health related clients.

Having a front seat to the government and public health inner workings during the COVID-19 pandemic reminded me how much I thrive in tense, high pressure situations. When a former supervisor and colleague reached out and asked if I’d ever consider returning to agency, I realized the past 18 months had primed me for a return to the fast-paced, highly scientific life I used to know. Following a whirlwind interview and negotiation process, I am delighted to re-join Edelman Public Relations in December as a Senior Vice President.

Another rebirth, another migration. I have so enjoyed my current position and will be sad to leave such wonderful people. At the same time, I am so excited to spread my wings and fly.

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