caterpillars

Butterfly Love

About 18 years ago I learned about the rare pipevine swallowtail butterfly from a local treasure, Louise Hallberg of Hallberg Butterfly Gardens. Louise was a butterfly whisperer, and I wanted to be like her. I found the host plant living in a hilly ravine in my neighborhood, and planted some under an apple tree.

Each year I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the butterflies in February and watched as the vine extended its reach. In those early days I was busy and it was not til a few years ago that I started noticing the orchid-like Dutchman’s pipe flowers hiding under the leaves on the vine, and a couple more years til I noticed the starfruit-like fruit on the vine and the tiny clusters of eggs.

Yet I always wondered where the caterpillars went to to metamorphose into the pupa or chrysalis stage. . .until this year.

pipevinelifecycle

Maybe it’s because I’m home all the time and walking back and forth to my studio from the house, but this year I watched a butterfly drying it’s wings, newly emerged from its dormancy. And this week I have been watching caterpillars as they migrate, looking for a place to form their chrysalids. I fear for their safety from predators. (Louise used to bring them into her house and keep them safe while they went dormant.)

And then I got to watch a caterpillar do it’s “transition” on the gutter above the door to my studio!  In 24 hours it became a jewel-like chrysalid with its “coat” dangling on the end of a string! The next day it was a different jewel-like color. I must say I’m enchanted.

handful

Something is definitely going on in our ecosystem this year. In addition to the caterpillar/butterfly action this week we were visited by a bobcat in our backyard one day and a great blue heron the next. And the birdsong. . .well I’ve written about that. It’s operatic! Have you noticed nature reaching out to us humans more this year as we quiet down?

 

Dress of the Day

acrylic, hand made stamps, ink, and collage on w/c paper

the girls hop on the line
show off-y like spring
like those orange polka dotted caterpillars  
munching the pipevine
eating big holes in the leaves
til there’s nothing left
but their big juicy selves

back to the girls on the line
hanging out for the fresh air
dancing on the breeze
headless, carefree
their only personality
the dress of the day

Ah yes, carefree.  How to be carefree at my age, or any age for that matter.  I certainly wouldn’t sign up to trade with a teenager. . .6 year old maybe, but then I’d have to do the whole growing up thing all over again. . .no thanks.  Better to cultivate a carefree state of mind.

I’m headed to Vancouver, B.C. tomorrow to visit my son Ben, who is graduating from college.  Now 21 is a pretty great age.  I think I’ll try it on for size, at least for a week of fun in the city and then out to the islands.  He says if the rain stops for a bit we’ll go kayaking, and you can eat that wonderful fresh fish even if it’s raining, so we’re cool.