I was about 15 or 16 years old. We were bringing in wood for the pot-belly in the kitchen because it was a chilly day. I noticed something bright green on one of the logs and stopped great-grandma from tossing it into the fire. There was a beautiful vivid green chrysalis attached to the piece of wood. I knew instantly that it was a monarch butterfly cocoon.
I gently pried the piece of bark with the chrysalis off the side of the log and took it to the kitchen table. I looked at it closely. It was such a vibrant color, and I was amazed that the ribbing and spots looked just like real gold. It was beautiful, and I was really hoping that it might hatch. I guess it was my lucky day.
Over the course of the day the chrysalis dried and cracked and the butterfly began to emerge. My grandmother, great-grandmother and I all watched in awe at the new life appearing. It struggled slowly to free itself. We went outside and gathered wild flowers and put them in a vase nearby. It was a very pretty little bouquet.
We were amazed to see this fat, ugly thing crawl out of the cocoon. Its wings were small and crumpled in an ugly brown pile on its bloated back. We thought it must be defective somehow and we were a bit sad. It was somehow wrong, and probably wouldn’t live. Someone got the idea to put sugar water in a jar lid and offer it to the butterfly.
Amazingly, it extended its delicate proboscis and drank from the lid. We all say, enraptured, watching it feed. Over the next few hours, we were fixed in our positions at the table, shoulder to shoulder, watching as it transformed. The fluids that packed its engorged body slowly travelled to its wings. They filled with color and expanded. in time, it was the work of natural art we have come to expect. It was gorgeous.
it was somewhat lethargic, it must have taken a tremendous amount of energy to perform such a transformation. I lifted it gently onto the flowers and headed outside. Upon seeing the sun and the beautiful outdoors, it tested its wings and soon took flight. I was sad to see it go, but grateful to have been part of something so amazing.
I remember this day so clearly, after all this time for two reasons. One, it was amazing to see nature in action and see life bloom before our eyes. Two, it was one of the few times that our three generations enjoyed something together. No fighting, arguing or abuse, no cursing or hitting. We were three beings enraptured in the same glorious event. nature had brought us together, if only for a few hours. It is one of my favorite memories.