I love seeing images in field guides of cool, lesser noticed bugs, the really big ones, or the ones that have more colors than most, or even the ones that live for a brief moment in time and then go on their journey into death and beyond. It makes it all seem something like a treasure hunt. In all my (relatively) brief years, I have never seen an actual monarch caterpillar. They are so big and so yellow, that it seems amazing that I've never come across one, but there you have it.
"MOM! Come quick!"
I hear this a lot. It is usually followed by "See what Hunter did!"
(Her mischievous younger sister)
At first the little one ate.
Then it stopped. I got freaked out and called the Audubon society. They informed me (without even laughing a little bit) they they don't eat continuously without stopping ever, and that it probably just needed a rest. She was right. It ate and ate a bit after that.
The next morning we gave it fresh leaves and it seemed to just sort of putz around. By the next day it was hanging from the screen in the tell-tale "J" shape! We were headed out that day, and I was so afraid that we would miss the magical chrysalis transformation into the pupal stage (hahahaha).
I was heartbroken. And I was so sad to have to tall my kids. Athena asked if we could wait another day, and so we did. By this time it was beginning to shrivel and dry up. When I told her it was really dead her response was, "Can I hold it now?" I hadn't let her handle it again since I learned that we have bacteria on our hands that can kill it, and I was afraid her little sister would crush it by accident.
Her response blows my mind. She's a really different kind of kid than I was (am). If I had gone through something like this at her age I would have been inconsolable for days. Possibly years. Really, there is still some lame stuff that still gives me pangs. Like that time I threw my Chatty Cathy Doll off the second story balcony to see what would happen. It breaks. (pang). But Athena just moves on to the next truth. It's dead now, so we can't hurt it, I can hold it. Just like that. Don't think she's cold either, she loves all living things, and they love her. I seriously just watched a lobster fall asleep in her arms the other day. A lobster. But she has a very matter-of-fact was of looking at things. She inherits this handy skill from her father, and not from me. I am still honing my matter-of-fact skills.
I hurried over, checking to make sure the little one was in view.
She had found a pile of frass identical to the one the monarch left behind. We rooted around to see if we could get another, but it was long gone.
So our butterfly adventure didn't turn out the way we (or the Monarch) hoped, but we learned a little. My kid has a sharper, keener eye for the nature around her, and her momma learned to enjoy the beauty of what is, whether it falls in with my expectations or not. Thanks, Kid.