Thursday, August 12, 2010


Our grandkids brought a dozen or so Monarch caterpillars a couple of weeks ago, and we put them into containers, fed them with milkweed leaves, and watched them chrysallize (is that a word?). One of the three came out ysterday, and this one made its entrance this morning. I was fortunate enough to see again the miracle of metamorphsis up close and personal!

I saw it once before, several years ago, and wrote this account of it:


The air was still and crisp. I moved my lawn chair into a sheltered spot near the house, next to a patch of wildflowers and weeds that I had missed with the mower, and sat in the sun. It had been a difficult day, and my head was full of my own self, and all of my problems. It’s a wonder that I even noticed the chrysallis, hanging nearby on a dried-out milkweed plant. A movement caught my eye, though there was no wind. I watched for a moment, and saw that it had begun to split open, revealing a dark interior. At first I thought it was all of one color, but it opened further, and I saw the black and orange cloak of a Monarch. It struggled for a time with its confinement, then stopped, its spindly legs and crumpled wings trapped half in and half out of the unyielding case.
It’s too late in the season, I thought, it just didn’t make it. Too bad. My own thoughts came crashing in again, and I closed my eyes for a moment, to try to sort them out. Things were just not working out the way I had planned them, and now it was too late to do anything about it. Might as well give up, like this poor, dead, black and orange thing. Monarch of what, I thought sarcastically, some king -- can’t even get out of its own shell. Just like me.
Then something brushed against my cheek, and I felt something hit the front of my shirt. The touch was so light that I thought for a moment that a leaf had drifted down from the maple in the side yard. I opened my eyes and looked down, and there was the Monarch, resting on my chest, just over my shirt pocket. Its wings moved slowly, drying, and I could see life working its way into them. The twisted legs straightened and flexed, and it appeared to be enjoying the warmth of the sun.
I sat still, hardly daring to breathe, captivated by the miracle I saw unfolding so close to me, until the wondrous creature gathered up its warmth, and its strength, and flew off to join the rest of the late bloom on their southward migration. Never too late, it flashed in a blaze of black and orange reassurance, it’s never too late to claim a kingdom.
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