Occasionally I fall into a funk. Lately, it’s been about the insect bites describing designs all over my torso; the rain; the ever-greedy mold trying to consume all things leather, paper, and wood inside the house and out; and about the waterborne microorganism I brought back from Cuba in my gut. Yada, yada, yada, as my friend Ginny used to say. Luckily, my funks can vanish like a fly on a lizard’s tongue.
I sit at my computer desk, watching brigades of bright orange butterflies vie for a spot on the tiny pink and yellow blossoms sprouting on some of our butterfly bushes, and gazing at the verdant mountains in the background. My mood begins to lift. Even when the fog marches up from the valley and screeches silently to a halt a scant few feet from the terrace, I can still see the butterflies, if not the distant mountains.
One of the first things we did when we moved here was plant butterfly bushes. Here’s a silver lining in the rain cloud: plants grow like Jack’s beanstalk during the rainy season. Turn your back on them, and they’ve added inches. Our butterfly bushes have become prodigious, and the butterflies love them. So do the hummingbirds.
During the last week of August, when we returned from a week away, we found- to our dismay- that something had been feasting on our calla lilies. Closer examination revealed numerous butterfly eggs, and a few fully hatched caterpillars, calmly chomping away. Oh well, we can’t have beauty without the beast, and the calla lilies will survive the onslaught, we thought.
A few days ago, we discovered several green and yellow striped caterpillars playing acrobat on the fence that surrounds our terrace. The little fellas appeared to be suspended in air, as they hung upside-down from the wire. They began lifting their tiny heads as though trying to do caterpillar pull ups. Slowly, their bodies began to form the letter J. They were entering the chrysalis stage: the rest before the transformation to butterfly.
Soon, dull green pupas splattered with bits of gold entombed the caterpillars. We watched anxiously, hoping to witness the moment when the magnificent winged creature emerges from captivity.
This morning, the last three butterflies emerged. We rushed from spot to spot around the terrace as the pupas became translucent, revealing the colors of the butterfly to emerge. First one then another ripped through the silky membrane to push out a wing here, a spiky antenna there, in escape from confinement. Our butterflies had wings of bright orange and black, with double bands of white dots on black encircling the lower edges; they were Monarchs. Proud as parents, we snapped photos at the fairy-like creatures, and watched them fly away. I hope my funk flies with them.