My neighbor Danuta Loane gifted us with the opportunity to care for a dozen monarch caterpillars, fatten them with milkweed, and release them after they emerged from their chrysalises.
We had never cared for monarchs before, and their appetite was astounding to me. At their most voracious we’d make a couple of trips a day to pluck leaves from the milkweed stalk, allowing its sticky milk to ooze out. We’d look underneath the picked leave to brush away any unwanted insect eggs.
Once delivered to the caterpillars, they would make the leaf disappear in hours.
Then, came the waiting time. The caterpillars climbed to the top of the enclosure, made a J shape with their bodies.
Okay, we thought, soon they will be forming a chrysalis. We’d watch and watch, and it seemed like just as we looked away, the caterpillar made a chrysalis in a blink.
Then, waiting for the butterflies was the same. The chrysalis would darken and become transparent. We could see the wings all folded up inside like origami. Surely we’ll see it happen - we’d catch the butterfly coming out, and sure enough we stepped out of the room and return to find a butterfly or two or three delicately moving its wings to dry them.
After each butterfly emerged, we’d keep it inside for a few hours to finish drying before releasing it outside wishing it a good trip to Mexico.
Butterfly is significant to me personally. It’s the symbol my Mom assigned to me - yellow butterfly to be precise, and I feel really lucky to have been able to witness the transformation of 12 monarchs. It was such an unstoppable process to watch, to be around, and I hope that for the four of us in this house, we are able to absorb that energy of transformation into this next season.
I can feel hints of the transformation in how we rearranged our house. I can feel it in the stirrings of my business. I see it in the kids who are growing as fast as those caterpillars and are as hungry. I can see it in Patrick as he is planning and thinking about his gardens. We are full of this butterfly energy and are so lucky to be here.
Anna Lentz, artist, writer, and creativity coach who blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.