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  • Katherine Dudley Hoehn

Butterflies and Bobbi

Updated: Oct 3, 2019

The second generation of monarchs began emerging from the safety of their chrysalises on my screened porch. Included are the progeny of others I raised a few months ago. I brought the little monarch caterpillars indoors to protect them from the hungry birds and lizards that enjoy snacking on them. In the safety of a screened 10-gallon aquarium, the little eating machines ate hand-picked milkweed, developed their chrysalises and began their dramatic change into butterflies.

When they first emerged, the butterflies’ wings were damp and their bodies bloated with hormones that soon pulsed through their wings and forced them to expand. Initially crippled by lack of wingspan, and their fat caterpillar-like abdomens, they were helpless to do anything but let nature take over. Occasionally they flexed their wings like body builders in front of the mirror. The whole process from chrysalis emersion to flight took but a few hours.

Toward the end of each emersion, I carefully moved the butterfly, on the top of my finger, to a plant in the garden where it could enjoy a brief sunbath before flight. It was a thrilling thing to see them fly for the first time, initially tentative then altogether confident. Each time, I took a deep breath and said a little prayer for their safety with thanks for the additional reason to ponder the preciousness of life.

Butterflies were but the start of my “oh my” moments on the day when the first of this generation of monarchs emerged. Later that day I spoke to my eldest who reported the birth of my fourth grandchild, a little girl. As my son told me her name and birth statistics and assured me everyone was happy and healthy, I thought about the first butterfly emergence and what a tribute it was to Miss Bobbi b on her birthday. How the abdomens of the newly emerged butterflies pulsing hormones into their wings was not unlike my son’s description of cutting the umbilical cord so that Bobbi could function on her own, outside the human chrysalis, although for some time she will not be free to fly.

My son sounded confident, but in a state of wonder that new life could happen so fast and dramatically. And now he has the responsibility for her development for nearly 2 decades to come. And, I knew that his heart was just a little bit smaller, having already given a piece of it to his first daughter.

Tears welled and I was so grateful to be able to share these tender moments with him and hear the joy and amazement in his voice.

Butterflies to babies. It was quite a week. Since, I have seen several monarchs snacking on blossoms in the garden, filling their short lives with energy sustaining nutrition so they can fulfill their mission.

Bobbi has so much ahead of her and I hope to someday share the amazing cycle of the monarch and talk about life and the day she was born. Monarchs will forever make me think of her. Welcome to the world, Bobbi. I look forward to helping you soar.

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