We all learn about the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies in kindergarten or first grade. It’s nothing new, and no longer profound–that is until you get to experience the whole thing firsthand.

A few years ago, Tom and I allowed a milkweed plant (“weed”) to grow in front of our house, among the flower pots. Not in one, mind you, but among them. Here you can see the haphazard look it creates, but it’s worth it.

That year, we found two Monarch caterpillars on the plant, let them grow and mature. Ever since, we’ve been nurturing the milkweeds among our flowers. This year, we were rewarded with at least five caterpillars. 

I checked on them daily, when I watered the flowers. And I watered the roots only of the milkweeds. I noticed the caterpillars did not enjoy being sprinkled.

One day, I was outside with a book and a beverage, enjoying the summertime air and view, when I looked down and here was this little guy:

He wasn’t moving much at all, so I wondered if he was preparing to weave his chrysalis. I sat very still but noticed nothing. I checked back five hours later, and sure enough, here he was!

So now I checked every single day, and moved the chair ever-so-slightly out of the way, and forbade ANYONE to sit there for fear we’d knock him loose. Ten days later, I missed checking ONE DAY, and found this:

But luckily, I had seen this little guy, struggling to get off the ground.

And he fluttered a few feet away to land like this. And lo and behold, after several minutes, he took off into the sky!

Maybe I’ve become a sentimental sap in my old age (Ah, no maybe about that; I guess I just am). But this summer, I feel especially lucky and connected to the earth and the sky, the weather, the moon, the seasons, and everything growing. Not having to worry about or think about school frees up so much headspace and emotional space that I feel like I’ve gotten a whole new lease on the universe. That, and having recovered from that crazy aortic dissection and open-heart surgery, cardiac rehab, etc. It feels as if this is the first August I’ve gotten to fully LOVE since I was four years old!  

Last image, my flower bike once again. This bike is 55 years old this year. I got it for my 11th birthday, and my mom kept it and rode it until she was in her late 70s. I got it back when she left the farm, and now it’s put to the most wonderful use.

(And thanks, Hannah J., for helping with some of these pictures!)

Becky Avatar

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