Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If this is The Monarch, where is Dr. Girlfriend?

Last year, Shari planted some milkweed in our backyard, hoping to attract Monarch butterflies.  About two weeks ago, I noticed a big, fat, black, yellow and white striped grub on our fence.  I hadn't seen a Monarch caterpillar since I was a kid.  I was so excited, I wanted to pick it up but Shari stopped me, knowing that a 'pillar that size was getting reading to 'change' and handling it would not be a good thing.

So I left it alone.  And sure enough, the next day, the caterpillar was gone, having been replaced by what looked like a pod.  It was green and had a row of gold dots circling the fattest part.  It was gorgeous.  Shari had, of course, seen chrysalis (chrysali?) many times before.  She's a member of Monarch Watch and has captured caterpillars, watched them turn, tagged them and released them into the wild.  How these fragile creatures carry around radio collars is way beyond me!

For two weeks, I've been looking at this caccoon hanging on my fence.  After a while, the outter shell became a bit more translucient such that you could kinda make out the pattern of butterfly wings underneath.  Shari informed me that the chrysalis would turn black right before the butterfly would emerge.

It must have been black last night.  Because this morning, when I let the dogs out, there, sitting on what looked like a giant popcorn hull, was a Monarch butterfly.  I went closer to inspect.  I guess I had never really inspected a Monarch before.  The wings were black and orange, of course.  But the body I hadn't noticed before.  It was black, covered with perfect little white circles.

I mean, I have seen butterflies before.  I've seen pictures like the one above and yeah, you can see the little circles.  But seeing is different than experiencing.  I experienced the circles on its body.  I witnessed this fat little grub become this long, elegant creature.  Far beyond seeing.  Far beyond explaining.  Much more of an experience.  Much more of an understanding.

Butterflies are cool.  I'm going to get one tattooed on my arm.

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