Author Nancy Lorraine captures the stories of her backyard butterflies
Author Nancy Lorraine is a bit like the butterflies that whisper through the petals of the purple meadow sage that stretches out of her backyard Briarcliffe English garden.
“I find at this age, I’ve lived through so many phases of life as student and scholar, wife, mom, grandmother,” she tells me, gazing out onto the lovely screened patio that borders her flower garden.
Lorraine’s metamorphosis began north of the Mason-Dixon at the University of Maryland, where she earned her bachelor’s in social work. This was followed by time at the Catholic University of America, where she received her master’s. Lorraine then migrated to Columbia, S.C., to earn her Ph.D. in social work at the University of South Carolina.
And just like the Monarchs that journey with their own each season, evolving into beautiful versions of themselves by just spreading their wings, Lorraine went from running her private counseling practice for 30 years while raising three children to moving to Myrtle Beach from North Carolina in 1997.
It’s here that she’s taken on roles of councilwoman for her beloved town of Briarcliffe, focusing on land protection and environmental issues; master gardener, a hobby she’s dug her hands into since her teen years; and, most recently, children’s book author.
“I spend every day out in my garden,” she says. “It’s amazing what you observe when you’re quiet. It’s peaceful; it’s spiritual for me.”
The only sound she would hear was the clicking from her camera, capturing those elusive hummingbirds sipping on red syrup, stray black cats and migrant Monarchs. It’s how she began conjuring up ideas for the blueprint of a children’s book. That and the conversations she’d have with her granddaughter out in the garden.
“I’d be telling her not to be afraid of the bumblebees or the worms—and how there are so many good things about those creepy-crawly things,” she recalls.
To educate other wee ones on the wonders of gardens, she self-published The Butterfly Adventure, more recently followed by Tatty, The Lonely Monarch (both are written for ages 4–8 and both are illustrated by friend Dorothy Herron). The inspiration for Tatty was captured on film, a Monarch with a torn wing resting on Lorraine’s backyard butterfly tree. The book tells of Tatty’s slow journey to Mexico with the help of other animals, who point her in the direction of fellow butterflies.
“If you want your children to really get a sense of appreciation and wonderment for nature, this is a great way to introduce that to them,” says Lorraine.
Illustration by Dot Herron