Monday, July 07, 2008

life and death and mail-order caterpillars

A month ago, we sent away for caterpillars.
Three weeks ago, they arrived in the mail.
We watched them eat.
We watched them produce five times their weight in caterpillar dung.
We woke up one morning to five chrysalises.
We waited.
The butterflies emerged a few days later.
They dried their wings.
They fluttered around a bit in their net but did not fly.
They pressed their bodies together, mating in captivity.
Yesterday, we let them go.
They flew, awkwardly at first.
They stayed close, swooped around our flowers and circled back for several minutes.
Then they were gone and we took the empty net back inside.
Today, in two milk lids taped together, we buried the one who died midway to maturity.
My son is sad and I tell him that it's part of nature. We can't help it if sometimes nature is cruel, sometimes butterflies just don't make it. He seems to accept this explanation.
But I can't get over the image of the tiny interrupted thing, its sticky wings caught in the cracks of a chrysalis shell so thin it is already turning to dust.


Kimberly said...

There's a lot of sadness and struggle that goes into creating beauty, isn't there? Poignant thoughts.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

That always happens to us, too - one out of the 5 don't make it, and it dies a horrible, lingering death in front of my innocent children's eyes. Lord, I hate that.

Candace E. Salima said...

So why did you order caterpillars, was it for a school project or a teaching moment for your children?

Here are the details for our lunch next week:

July's Blogger Babe Get-Together
Taco Salad at South Fork Park
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Provo, Canyon
11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Here are the things left to bring, if you could email me at and let me know if you can make it, and if so, what you can bring, I'd appreciate it.

Refried Beans
Cheddar Cheese

Bring Your Own Drink (BYOD)

See everyone there! Let's make this our big summer bash. Join us.

Antique Mommy said...

This post - so plain and so beautiful all at the same time.