Monday, September 29, 2008

Ritual at Summer's End

Each summer we allow a patch of unsightly milkweed to grow at the edge of our property. Now you might wonder, "If you know it's unsightly, why don't you cut it down?" Well first, there are no houses next to us, so we have no worry of offending our neighbors. Second, if we put up with the unsightliness for a while, at the end of summer Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. To my knowledge, Monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed. When the egg hatches, the little caterpillars will gorge themselves on the milkweed and grow at an alarming rate.

The kids and I check the milkweed daily until at last we find the minuscule eggs clinging to the bottom of the leaves. We then cut away one section of leaves and put it in a container. Once the caterpillar appears, we place fresh milkweed in the container daily. Eventually they attach themselves to the top of the container and form a chrysalis. Then we wait.

This year we, had harvested three eggs. We missed the first two of the butterflies emerging from the chrysalis. By the time we found they had emerged, they were already for flight. But the third one, emerged one afternoon while Bill was in the hospital; and we did get to see it. Once the butterfly emerges, it cannot fly immediately but must let its wings dry first. Ever so slowly, like a beautiful dance, the butterfly fans its wings open and then closed again and again. During that time, before their wings are ready for flight, they will crawl onto a extended finger. Here is my son transporting this small creature ever so gently from the container to hang on ivy geranium until it is ready for flight.

No matter how many times we watch this transformation, we never tire of seeing it afresh each summer's end while watching and waiting for it to take its maiden flight. Perhaps now you can understand why we put up with the unsightly weeds in order to have the opportunity to view this beautiful process each year. How can one not marvel at our God and His creations?


Tracy said...

What an amazing opportunity! I wouldn't cut the milkweed either! (Not to mention that it's great for playing house, what with the outside looking like pickles, and the inside looking like fish scales!)

Jenn said...

Thanks so much for stopping by our blog and entering our giveaway!! I love cappuccino's too, but it's too much caffeine for me- I am bouncing off the walls for days if I have one!! :)

Take care,

Jenn W
One House Schoolroom

Elizabeth said...

What an interesting and beautiful ritual! Very Creative! I've always loved butterflies, their beauty and fragility has always captivated me!!!

Mom2fur said...

That is amazing! Not only can you marvel at God and His creations, but at His generosity in letting you 'play' a little with them. That is so sweet!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing this with me--it's lovely! We've never started with eggs before, only caterpillars. Perhaps we'll try that next summer.

Thanks for your comments. It's nice to hear from you! :)

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