I learned about monarch life-cycles mostly from Mary Lehman Yoder, who every summer had a few caterpillars she tended on her back porch. One memorable Sunday, she brought a jar with a chrysalis to church and the butterfly emerged during the service.
For years I'd look for a caterpillar of my own and didn't find any. Somewhere along the way, I learned to recognize the signs -- a monarch on a blooming milkweed, the tiny ribbed cream-colored egg, the telltale holes in milkweed leaves, the teeny caterpillars in first or second instar (of 5 stages the caterpillar goes through, shedding its skin and getting bigger), the frass (poop) produced by the large 5th instar caterpillar.
A couple of years ago was the "summer of the monarchs," as we found, raised, and released a dozen monarchs. Last year I didn't see even one. This year I have been seeing butterflies or caterpillars every day -- they have been thriving on the milkweed in our backyard. We've tended 5 on our back porch but have been leaving the rest in place. Some day I hope to find a chrysalis in the wild.
I continue to learn from Mary. This post is in honor of Mary and her family, and the life cycle realities they are in the midst of these days.
Another backyard, another celebration. This one was celebrating the creative music-making of the Theory Expats, Andrew Pauls, Sadie Gustafson Zook, and Ethan Setiawan, together again. If you're on the East Coast, you too might have a chance to hear them play this summer. Check out www.facebook.com/TheoryExpats/ for their schedule and to hear some clips of their music.
The dragonfly liked the music enough to settle on an overhead wire for an extended time.
A summer evening at St Julian's Home for Restive Critters, also known as David and Sarah's place. The restive critters are 2 humans, 3 chickens, and 4 cats these days, but this evening they were joined by four generations of the Henry D and Sallie Weaver clan. There was watermelon and black raspberry eating, marshmallow roasting, chatting, frisbee throwing, water play, and later, firefly catching.
There is also fire of a different kind in my backyard these days -- daylilies and sunflowers in sunny bloom.
Summertime. A blaze of bright colors in a bouquet, and a collection of monarch caterpillars in various stages. After not seeing any monarchs -- caterpillars or butterflies -- last summer, this summer there has been a multitude. We saw our first two in a stretch of wildflowers along the train tracks which were then mowed down. So I took in the next 5 or 6 I found in my garden, planning on sharing them with young friends. Since then I've been leaving ones I find in the garden where I find them. Maybe that way I'll find a chrysalis in the garden some day.
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"