The butterfly effect is a term used in
Chaos Theory to describe how tiny variations can affect
giant ... and complex systems, like weather patterns ...
suggest that the wing movements of a butterfly might have
significant repercussions on wind strength and movements
throughout the weather systems of the world.
Mitt Romney was right.
Five or six years ago, he told me I should
fly JetBlue, which he had encouraged to locate at a terminal at
Boston's Logan Airport.
Before that, when I mentioned having
grandchildren in Nevada, he'd recommended Delta to Salt Lake
City, then a hop over the mountains to Reno. Until then, I'd
been flying American to get the extra legroom, but took his
advice and found Delta the easier route. I really like the SLC
airport so didn't take his further advice to try JetBlue through
Last month, when I decided to go to my
50-year class reunion in western Pennsylvania, I remembered his
recommendation and went online to see if JetBlue could get me
somewhere near my hometown without first flying me to Newark,
where I didn't want to go even now that Chris Christie is New
Jersey's governor. Found many direct flights, Boston to Buffalo,
for under $200 round-trip.
I really didn't want to fly out of Logan at
all, because I'd heard about the invasive security there, though
I hadn't experienced it. Since 2008, I've been taking the train
But it's a long drive to St. Marys, Pa., and
passenger trains don't go there anymore. So with friends
offering to pick me up and drive the final lap, I decided to put
up with the airline hassle and fly JetBlue.
What a delightful surprise! The online
booking was easy, the terminals were new, the personnel in their
bright blue uniforms friendly. When both my going and returning
flights were delayed an hour, passengers were given regular
updates regarding their status and reassurance about connecting
flights. I thought we'd gone back in time to when flying was a
The planes seemed new with lovely gray
leather seats, which were comfortable, with legroom! You could
pay for even more if you wanted it. I didn't rent headphones for
the short flight; didn't need sound to watch a soccer game on my
personal cable TV screen. Our snack was blue potato chips, made
with blue potatoes! And the populist in me loved having only one
class of seating.
emerging monarch butterfly, its translucent
chrysalis above it. The second chrysalis, yet to
open, is visible bottom-center left.
Click photo to enlarge.
Best of all, security wasn't traumatic. Aside
from the shoe removal, it was similar to the security measures
I'd experienced in most of the years I've been flying. They do
use the more intrusive screening, but not all the time for
I was a little concerned about the
butterflies I was bringing back in my knapsack. I thought if
they were confiscated and destroyed, I would be responsible for
a reverse "butterfly effect": Their fragile wings would never
flap, never cause a tiny breeze that could help move clouds to
relieve a drought somewhere.
So it was nice when, after taking a very
close look, the screener let the two chrysalises go through;
they are now hanging like jade and gold jewels on their little
branches on my windowsill, waiting to become monarch butterflies
and move outside to my butterfly bush to flap a series of
breezes during their brief lives.
If I can find some milkweed here in manicured
Marblehead (monarch caterpillars can eat only milkweed), they
may even produce babies for the autumn-born generation that
flies to Mexico for the winter, fluttering breezes across North
In case you are wondering: The chrysalises
were a gift from my childhood friend, Sara, who brought them
from her upstate New York home to where I was staying with other
childhood friends, Anne and Jerry. She gave them five
caterpillars; we thought she was crazy until we were all
gathered, with family members, around the table delightedly
watching them wriggle from their skins into their chrysalises.
It's funny, one notes at a 50-year reunion,
how people don't really change much. We sometimes needed the
high school yearbook photos attached to our nametags to
recognize faces, but the essence of our classmates was familiar
— even those we hadn't seen since graduation.
From first grade, Sara was the sensitive
artist; in high school, the science student who first told me
about DNA. Now she is a potter with a certified backyard
ecosystem, bearing butterflies to friends.
Lindy still laughs her way through every
sentence; Joe is still the exuberant, argumentative
farmer/logger whose politics resemble mine; Nancy, the only girl
who could beat me at tennis, is now an impressive golfer. No one
was too surprised when Jim's jokes were the dinnertime
Our class valedictorian, a Salem-area former
selectman whom I won't "out" as my classmate, still exudes
intellectuality, as Patty exudes earthy common sense. My best
friend, Anne, still calmly dispenses wise advice, focused on
family, as I focused on travel and political activism.
Eighteen classmates were listed in the
reunion booklet as deceased. The rest of us celebrated still
being alive, flapping our wings, making our small difference as
the world turns.