We don’t generally look at a beautiful butterfly like this Gulf Fritillary, fluttering fairy-like on my studio wall, and think about what it takes for this creature to get to this point in their life cycle. But yesterday I was treated to a partial metamorphosis in progress – the part where the caterpillar stops munching the passion vine leaves and turns itself into a paper sack.
It was an extremely windy afternoon, so you can hear the moan of the wind in the (one minute) video I took, but don’t be fooled. The movement of the caterpillar is not the effect of the wind blowing it, though I couldn’t help but worry that the tender filament by which it had attached its entire body to the wood was extremely slender.
I watched transfixed and imagined what it must take in the way of energy and endurance for this little creature to so thoroughly surrender itself to its transition to the paper body (chrysalid).
In some ways it’s not entirely dissimilar to spending ones days as I have lately, wrapping my life in paper and boxes for a move, not really knowing how it will be on the other – unwrapping – end. It’s a kind of temporary stasis.
Will that fragile casing of the caterpillar be strong enough for it to endure the upcoming change? And what about my own fragile casing? Will I have enough energy to see me through? Haha! Of course I will! But oh, so much still to pack before the truck arrives Tuesday morning. . .
and I take the big leap! Hopefully with elegance and abandon, like this dancer I sketched for practice last week!
Back to packing now. See you on the other side. . .the next post will be from Olympia!
There’s so much going on now in the winter garden. I keep poking my head outside my studio door to see how the Gulf Fritillary chrysalid is coming along with its metamorphosis. Moments ago it was wiggling its wing and two shiny eyes looked back at me from within its leaf-like encasing. Want to see?
I’m hoping it gets on with it before nightfall. It’s not something one wants to miss!
And then those fuzzy little knobs all over the pipevine are starting to plump out into the orchid-like red Dutchmen’s pipes I have sketched so many times. And that means that some time this month the butterflies will also arrive and lay their eggs and. . .well you know the cycle.
And then, since it’s been raining off and on, we have a new crop of ‘shrooms that are particularly lovely as they progress through the stages of their own life cycle.
Flashy orange butterflies have been frequenting my studio garden lately. They flutter by so fast that it took me a few days until I could see them holding still enough to identify them – as Gulf Fritillaries. Of course! Their host plant is the eye catching passion vine which reaches out brazenly across the walkway in front of my studio. Why have I never noticed these Fritillaries before?
They also appeared in my recent Muse lesson demo (not content to only populate my studio garden). The lesson was drawing with long oak and redwood sticks from the garden, dipped deeply into Chinese ink so that the ink would keep dripping and extend the mark making time.
We started our mark making on brown craft paper and translucent washi paper, then moved to watercolor paper, using some of the other papers for collage. That’s when the butterfly shape appeared. I also used the stick to write the words “tread lightly” across the watercolor paper, no doubt thinking of the near collisions that day as I made my way across the Fritillary path!
No clomping along heavy footed in iron shod boots with the weight of the world in your backpack.
Be Butterfly and flit lightly from one nectar soaked blossom to the next.
Become Bee and make drunken stops along your way.
Or Hummingbird and leave no foot prints. Be ephemeral.
Tread lightly and you won’t miss a thing.
Mixed media play and a little bit of meditation and five minutes of writing. That’s what we do in Muse Group. I teach it in my studio in Sebastopol, CA in sessions of around six weeks. A new session starts October 7-November 11. There’s still a couple openings at this writing. For more information visit my website and by all means contact me if you have any questions or would like to register. We’d love to have you!