I’m a fairly lazy gardener, letting pretty much anything green fill the spaces between the black-eyed susans and the coneflowers, which are kind enough to re-seed themselves yearly. When I found a common milkweed hiding at the back of the garden I was fine with it. Not only would it add some greenery by the alley, it might also attract a few monarch butterflies. In fact, I was delighted to find at least a dozen monarch caterpillars munching on its milky leaves.
Suddenly I’m a sixth grader again, dashing into the house in search of empty jars for housing my new family of potential butterflies.
Many of my blog posts have been about reminding you, dear reader, how easy it is to find wonderful things right under our noses.
It is understandable that you may not have milkweeds in your well-tended gardens or may choose not to scout for caterpillars, and finding a chrysalis among the leaves is not easy. Plus, there's the added responsibility of housing and feeding these creatures. It took several forays into the countryside to find enough milkweed leaves to feed these voracious eaters. And then there's keeping the jars clean; food in, food out, y'know? To spare you the trouble of putting on your own monarch rodeo, I’ll let you in on the excitement from a safe distance.
This is a great shot of 3 stages of development. About a week separates the freshest chrysalis (middle) from the most mature (far right).
This one is just a few hours short of "blossoming". When I came back a few hours later, I found
this fine fellow clinging tenaciously to the lid, the skin of its protective sheath hanging empty beside it. If there had been snow on the ground I could have called it Christmas and been thoroughly satisfied.
Some moments in life are extra special, and this is one of those. I'll keep it in my memory to savor, and when I see the butterflies come back through next spring, I'll imagine that perhaps my little jelly jar houses played a small part in their amazing migration.