Column: We’ve undergone a metamorphosis
Joy recently found its way into our home and hearts by means of butterflies.
My daughter was delighted to learn I got her a special gift: a butterfly habitat and caterpillars.
The idea stemmed from an experience I had well before she was born, when I purchased a plant and discovered a lone caterpillar on one of the leaves.
I remembered the joy I had watching the insect transform into a beautiful butterfly and thought Eleanor would find the experience just as meaningful.
She beamed with excitement when I explained the process she would witness. She couldn’t wait to raise her own “pets.”
I reminded her we were unable to keep the butterflies.
“Yeah, I know, Mom,” she said. It’s going to be hard to let them go.”
It was ironic that my 9-year-old was already thinking about a feeling parents have — what it’s like to raise children and then let them spread their wings and fly out into the world upon high school graduation.
Eleanor immediately embraced the caterpillars as her own and insisted they stay in her room so she could watch them closely.
For the next few days, every little while she would make an announcement about the appearance of the caterpillars and would advise family members to walk carefully as not to disturb her new friends in her room. Moving the caterpillars too much can disrupt the metamorphosis process.
It was exciting to watch the caterpillars evolve. They became darker and looked hard as each formed a chrysalis, or pupa.
Following the directions, we transferred them to a netted habitat, where they continued to transform and, one by one, emerged as delicate wonders of nature.
In a matter of about two to four days, nine butterflies revealed themselves.
One day, three butterflies came out in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, we missed the moments they shed their chrysalis, but even so, seeing the new creatures flutter about made us smile.
It was interesting to watch them dry their wings. They climbed toward the top of the habitat and bathed in the light of the undercabinet lighting in our kitchen as if it were the sun.
We provided sugar water and fruit for them and admired their beauty for a little while before making plans for their release.
Eleanor was sad and a little nervous to let them go, so we made the butterfly release a family celebration in the back yard and recorded the experience.
A butterfly or two even landed on Eleanor’s hand.
One butterfly emerged but was injured. Its wings didn’t fully open, but it could climb up the side of the habitat. Eleanor and her brother, Nathaniel, named it Miracle and we nursed it with food after we released the others.
The timing of the butterflies seemed fitting for several reasons.
It served as a reminder of the transformation we all undergo in our lives.
I recognized the metamorphosis I have had over the past several months while sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic. I learned a lot about myself as an individual and reflected on the roles I assume in my life.
Butterflies also represent a new beginning, hope and life.
I felt hope as we watched the butterflies delicately flap their wings as they made their way upward, away from us and out into the expansive world, and was reminded of the goodness and joy that surrounds us, and of the goodness and joy that is still to come.
Sadly, we often overlook those joys, even when they are right before our eyes.
As we navigate through this new beginning — this altered way of doing things after coming out of lockdown after several months and emerging anew, still with an awareness that a virus continues to weave its way across the globe infecting people — let us look ahead with new perspective, seek hope and find the joy that surround us.
While butterflies recently brought much joy into my family’s home and heart, we continue to look forward to each new day with hope to see what unfolds, even in this ever-changing world.
Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.