Posts Tagged ‘monarch metamorphasis’

There is no end to the tale of the last Monarch chrysalis that hung from the siding of my house.

When unseasonably cold nights threatened, I insulated the chrysalis under a box against the house, cushioned by towels to keep out the cold.  Sheltered, it survived the wind and cold  intact.  Maturing, the chrysalis grew transparent, revealing the black and orange creature waiting within.

Warmth returned.  Days later, the Monarch was gone, chrysalis and all.  Did it blow away entirely on a warm autumn night?  Or did the butterfly finally fly on, leaving its aged former home to join restless leaves on their journey?

There is no end to the tale.

Not a bad thing.

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During our dreams we do not know we are dreaming.
– Master Zhuang, Chinese philosopher, 300 BC


Nighttime temperatures continue to fall, daytime temps are cooling.

Still the second Monarch chrysalis remains.  Green with golden zipper, it adheres to westward facing vinyl siding.  Unmoving, its inhabitant deep, even lost, in a transformational dream.

Compelled by its own nature to form its chrysalis, it may never emerge,  gone already into endless sleep.  So too, it may yet emerge against the odds,  to attempt a challenging migration.

If successful in breaking free of caterpillar form, and if it survives the battering journey south, it will join a multitude of its own.  Together, in company and concert, to experience a lifetime that was once only a cellular dream.

Something to that.



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The last butterfly is slowly bobbing up and down on the launch pad, wings drying in a slight breeze.

Of six caterpillars, five survived to attempt the southward trip to Mexico.  Locally, the days, nights, and flowers remain warm – initial conditions could not be better.

There is majesty to these butterflies.  They became what they were not, utterly unaware of the original destiny contained within their caterpillar skins.  Their  metaphor for human transformation is succinct.

But metaphor only.

Beautiful, compelling, inspiring.  While I may dream of being a butterfly, or perhaps they dream of being me – their transformative process is not ours.

Successful metamorphosis is complete, unforgiving, relentlessly onward – archetypal in Nature.

Although we work our lives for creativity, tread both earth and sky, and mature in liminal space – humans are forever cyclical.  Unlike the caterpillar, we ride the arrow of time both ways.

Evolution, revolution – forward, backward, dropping off pieces for the future and going back for more.

The butterflies have gone on. Autumn leaves are falling.  Inward, outward, down to start again.

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Captivated by this caterpillar business.

The scoreboard reads: four monarch caterpillars in chrysalis, one almost there, and one still prowling for milkweed.

Surprise at the utter disappearance of large caterpillars into small, almost gossamer slippers has given way to respect for the implacable stillness of a caterpillar awaiting its event horizon – the moments when its final immature form is shed  for a sheath of chrysalis and future life.

Awaiting that transformation,  a monarch caterpillar hangs upside down from its hind feet,  head rounded  up, looking very much like a “J.”  Formerly robust activity is forgotten, inquisitive tentacles droop.  Though caterpillar form is still present – whatever it was,  is gone.  Interiority.  Lost within itself – literally.

I wonder if eyes still see its passing world. Even without choice, I wonder about courage.

The environment and its larval caterpillar form delivered it to this moment.  The ending of this form, the shedding of its skin will occur within the next 24 hours, and then it too – like Mr. Saturday Night – will be gone.

Birth, life, recognition of outmoded ways, liminal stillness awaiting the numinous.  The life of a caterpillar.

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