A Monarch Moment
We all can recall our favorite
childhood story of the Hungry Hungry Catepillar that ate its way through a watermelon, cherry pie, a hot dog, ice cream and many other of our favorite treats! Well, after raising my own little catepillar, I can say for certain that all these catepillars do while in their catepillar life stage IS EAT! In fact they even eat themselves while in their crysalis! They have such a interesting life and mean so many different things to various individuals. For me, I got a little geeky with the whole life cycle proccess and at the same time also felt inspired and motivated to transform a part of my life!
Meet Rainbow Pony a 2 week old Monarch catepillar (named by my 5 year old daughter) she probably imagined it would make a great pony ride if she were living in a mini magical fairy teranium!)
Milkweed leaves are the essential host plant for both catepillar and butterfly. There are several types of milkweed leaf trees with different flower colors that serve as nutrients for different species. The milkweed leaves are actually toxic making the insect toxic if consumed which helps to ward off potential predators. We found "Rainbow Pony" on a neigborhood milkweed tree with lovely pink flowers. We cut some of the leaves off the tree and placed them and our catepillar in a pretty open glass vase which served perfect for 360° viewing of our eight legged hungry friend! He did manage to escape twice during his second day with us when he was searching for a place to spin his silk pad. Apparently these guys roam when ready to pupate which is an indicator as to when it's close to chrysalis time!
We covered the top of the vase with a random piece of temporary construction paper so our little friend couldn't escape while we were out for a short 1 hour trip to the beach. When we returned home from the beach, we found him hanging upside-down from the construction paper in a J shape which he remained in for the next 24 hours or so - which made the construction paper lid not so temporary at all after all!
This was the last time I ever saw our catepillar as a catepillar. It was a very short relationship but a memorable one.. mostly consiting of his escapes and especially the one instance when I found him chugging his way across our dining room table! Anyway, while hanging very still and pretty much unconscious, our catepillar soon shed it's final layer of skin revealing a beautiful jade crysalis underneath.
If only I could shed some unwanted habits/ skin by peacefully sleeping upside down waking up 3 weeks later well rested feeling more loved and more beautiful then ever before! While it's definitely an excellerated process for the butterfly there is so much work going on internally. I always grew up thinking that people/habits dont change; that people stay the same no matter how hard they try. Now that I've been through what seems like a dozen different life cycles, I know for a fact that people are very capable of change whether it be self improvement through diet and exercise, keeping routines or becoming more flexible, recognizing the way we treat others, learning new things and learning in new ways, having patience, an open mind, an interest in making mundane things pleasant.. cough cough okay these were all things I struggled with and still struggle with. But ya know, it's okay to be imperfect and all we can do is strive to be better by starting where we left off each morning and doing the best we can do. Whether were picking up from the middle of our goals, restarting completly or crushing our goals and making brand new ones..progress is a proccess and although it doesn't happen as quickly as we'd like it, we get closer to achieving our goals by continuosuly working towards them each day. A little cup of coffee or two also helps!
Here you can see we moved the light jade colored chrysalis (with catepillar silk pad embroidered construction paper attached!) into our kitchen. We thought it would be cool if the kids could witness the emerged butterfly from the dining table while eating oatmeal! The crysalis basically appeared inactive during the entire crysalis cycle until the end when we were able to see the monarch wings through the casing. It was all very exciting. We had developed a little love and protection over the crysalis and were careful not to slam drawers or cabinets around where we had taped it up. It was almost like our sleeping baby that we weren't quite sure would emerge or not but were all very hopeful that it soon would. My relationship with hope goes a little like..hope lifts us up and over our doubts, it's the little whisper that tells us everything will be okay. It has become a trusted belief within our hearts especially when we're feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, betrayed or just plain fed up. When I am feeling this way, I try my best to remember that there is always a little ray of light to rely and trust in, no matter how narrow that light may appear, it glimmer shines boldy through difficult times. It's the ray of hope and I've relied on it more often then not to see things through!
Day 8 - the casing is completely clear and we can clearly see the butterfly's wings. From research, I knew that my butterfly would hatch this day! Monarchs always emerge mid morning. I initially thought mid morning would be anywhere between
10 am - 11 am but for a monarch butterfly mid morning is more like 8:30 am! My daughter and I were sitting at the kitchen table..just as I hoped we would be, when I quickly sensed something was happening, I glanced over at our crysalis and noticed slight movement. The casing breaks a smidgen..ITS HAPPENING!!!
I jump with joy and quickly scoop up my 2 year old to show her! We're both in a pure joy state of how amazing the emergence is. I am also ecstatic because I am there with her at just the right second to be able to experience this magnificent event together!
Wow! This is actually happening in my kitchen on a basic Tuesday - my daughter and I are observing the birth of a butterfly together and are completely blown away by it's emergence. I knew it would happen but to be able to see the proccess from the start was truly inspiring. To watch a chunky green food driven catepillar transform into
an insect that can fly and that has wings the color of bright tangerine, that has graceful long legs and polkadots!!!? Nature- you are too good.
I've always recognized my love for nature as a blessing and hope to pass the same admiration for nature to my children so that they may also find beauty wherever they go. The butterfly dries its wings for about an hour and then flies around our house. I am pleased by it's company and wait until my older daughter comes home from school so she too could say goodbye to her catepillar friend in its new and improved state!
Metamorphosis: change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one. Hosting a butterfly in my home was an inspiring event and hope that I may have inspired you in some way as well. And while I am not planning on completly changing my physical form anytime soon..I do aspire to improve myself and to prepare my own set of wings that lie within me, that are equipped and ready to catch my dreams either when the opportunity presents itself or when I am ready for take off and seek out the opportunity myself!