Saturday, April 13, 2013

Butterfly Effect

I learned a lot of things in fourth grade. It was the year I was introduced to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the year I became fully acquainted with the darkness that lies in the hearts of nine-year-old girls (not least of all in my own heart, but that is a story for another time, perhaps). It was also the year I learned the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.

Back in the days before the scourge of standardized testing, Mrs. Wentz's fourth grade class learned about the life cycle of the monarch butterfly by tromping out to the field behind the school to gather caterpillars and milkweed leaves. Then we watched and waited while these caterpillars ate and ate and ate and then pupated and then emerged as butterflies which we released back into the same field from which they'd come.

At nine, I was awestruck by the process and at forty-four, I remain so. Over the years, I have occasionally given in to the pull of a certain nostalgic fascination and wandered into a field in search of a caterpillar to bring home.

Every time, I think, "This, this will be the time the system fails." But every time, every single time, it works. The caterpillar eats and eats and eats and then pupates--and I stare at the chrysalis and wonder what's going on in there. What kind of magic? What alchemy does it take to turn that humble caterpillar into a regal butterfly?

Every year, I get a little older. But that? That never gets old.

The butterfly I grew from scratch this past summer,
spreading its wings for the first time.


L is for Lepidoptery

14 comments:

  1. Hi, I read a book a while ago called The Behaviour of Moths (it was a novel) and in it I learned that, contrary to my assumption, the caterpillar does not grow into a moth/butterfly, but while in the pupa turns into primordial soup that reforms into a butterfly, kind of makes it even more magical process.
    thanks for sharing

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    1. Love the term "primordial soup." And I am fascinated by the science of it all as well. Thanks for that info; makes me want to check out the novel, too.

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  2. Love butterflies! New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.

    Sylvia
    http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

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    1. Welcome, Sylvia. I'm enjoying my first A to Z challenge and will pop over for a visit soon.

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  3. Magic never gets old. Nice job!

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  4. I've never seen that happen in real life. But, now I really, really want to.

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    1. It's so easy and so cool, Jewels.

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  5. wow that is so cool--i have never done this :)

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    1. It's worth trying--if you don't mind poking around in a field or empty lot to find milkweed and a caterpillar. Although, these days you can probably order the caterpillar from the Internet. ;)

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  6. It is a magical transformation. I know there is a scientific explanation for how it occurs, but I much prefer to view i as magic. I was also introduced to the land and stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the 4th grade. She was one of the reasons I fell in love with books.

    I am a new follower from the A to Z challenge. I am number 528 on the list.

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    1. Welcome, Melissa. I am a rabid Laura Ingalls Wilder fan to this day. Nice to "meet" you--will visit soon. :)

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  7. We used to do this annually with my kiddo. I miss it now that hes older...will have to do it this year!

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    1. I did it with my kids, too. This is the first year I did for myself. I was kind of surprised to find out that it still made me just as giddy as ever.

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