One late summer day we noticed this amazing lil cacoon - actually it's a chrysalis. It had spectacular gold details on it. Like some special treasure. It was safely made under the end of the banister on the porch. The weeks went by and I kept an eye on it.
After a heavy rain I checked on it and it had changed. It was clear but black. See-through to a black inside and you could see some of the monarch pattern. I knew it wouldn't be long until it hatched.
I checked the next day and to my great dismay, the butterfly was GONE! How sad after waiting so long. My eyes fell and my gaze rested on THE BUTTERFLY...!
I was so pleased to meet her (I now know she was a she because females have thick black veining through their wings.) She seemed overwhelmed. I couldn't imagine a stranger thing to go through, starting out as a grubby green caterpillar with lots of legs and turning into a beautiful butterfly with wings! I wanted to touch her (not her wings) but just to connect with her but I didn't want to interfere. Then I looked down to her right, there was a thick spider web. I wasn't going to stand by and let her possibly fall into it's doom. So I put my finger next to her legs and she crawled right on.
We just hung out for a while. Every once in a while she'd pump her wings and I could feel it through my finger. This seemed magical.
I decided to place her a few feet away on a tiny flower. The underside of her wings was also just so beautiful. (I realized how similar monarch's colors and patterns are to African mud cloth, one of my favorite textiles.)
There she stayed for over an hour. I kept trying to go back to work but then going outside to see if she had gone or if she was still hangin' on. This was such a great distraction on a sunny day, I just kept going outside.
I took so many photos but it was hard to capture her with her wings fully open, until finally, I got this one. Just exquisite!
Like a parent, I started getting a little concerned - shouldn't she try to fly by now? It had been hours since she hatched. I read that they usually fly shortly after hatching, after they've pumped their wings up. Maybe she lacked confidence? How could I help? At that moment, ANOTHER Monarch flew across the driveway and landed. CRAZY! I've seen very few butterflies around here and to see two at the same moment seemed like kismet. Then I had an idea... I brought "my" butterfly over to meet the other, in the hopes that she would learn to fly from it's example. I kept my finger low and in front of me so that the new butterfly (also a she) wouldn't fly away.
This worked. I crouched right down and slowly moved my finger towards the new butterfly.
This was all very intense and I managed to keep taking photos the whole time! It took a lot of attempts but I finally got a good photo of both of their wings open at the same time.
They fluttered together, seemed like they were communicating. Then mine started to crawl up my hand.
Then the other one started to crawl on my finger.
I was so excited - feeling like the butterfly whisperer! Mine crawled all the way up my arm to my shoulder and before I knew it - TOOK FLIGHT! Her first flight - such a cool thing to witness. She flew awkwardly at first, trying to get the hang of it, fluttering furiously. She flew all the way up to the tallest tree and landed. I felt sad to see her go, but so much pride to be a part of her ride!
The other butterfly flew seemlessly - a pro. I walked over to her again and put my finger out. She crawled on and I stood up. Then she flew off too.