In the final weeks of September, one of the butterflies emerged with damaged wings. She couldn’t fly, so I kept her in the caterpillar habitat and gave her fresh clippings from the butterfly bush every day.
Sometimes I took her out of the enclosure and carried her around the yard, letting her sample marigolds and lantana and salvia.
When she died, a day or two before her two-week birthday, she had undeniably lived longer than she would have lived in the yard. But was it enough?
Was nectar enough, or did my butterfly regret her flightless wings and unfertilized eggs?
What does a butterfly, or a caterpillar, need from life?
Do they yearn for sunshine and plentiful food? Do they crave happiness? Do they grieve?
There’s a poem hiding in these questions, but it’s so well hidden that I can’t find where it starts. Not today, anyway. Not with a rainy cold front outside and a miserable cough inside.
My last swallowtail caterpillar molted into a chrysalis yesterday. Now I have twenty-five chrysalises ready for winter.
It’s an interesting idea, sleeping through winter. What if I could simply set my alarm for “spring” and call my blankets a chrysalis? On days like today, cough and all, it seems like a good idea. But what about snow? And holidays? Would I be sad, in the spring, that I had missed them? Would you?