Bonding over Butterflies

We’ve gone through more struggles than many Moms and daughters. But, that doesn’t mean there’s less love. Just a “stronger” love, you could say. So, when Monique called last night, I didn’t think it was to do something together, for fun. No, not at all. But, she offered me an invitation I just couldn’t refuse.

“Mom, do you want to release my butterfly with me?”

You see, Monique had done what I do many summers. Grow butterflies. I’ve searched under milkweed leaves for an itsy-bitsy white egg. Brought the egg home, and watched it hatch into a striped white, yellow and black caterpillar. Fed the caterpillar a steady diet of fresh milkweed leaves, and saw it evolve into an emerald  chrysalis with the appearance of a gold necklace around it. And waited patiently. Then, the pupa would become translucent, giving the world a glimpse of the beauty it was to become: a Monarch butterfly!

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I wasn’t able to drop everything at that moment of Monique’s phone call. She put a piece of mango for food in the flower vase that was its home in the meantime. And, we set a date for the next day.

On our way to the alley to release the butterfly, we came upon a yard sale. We decided to stop as we both love a good bargain. I told Monique to leave the butterfly in the car. She insisted on bringing to show the small children at the sale.

The yard sale family was intrigued by the story of how the butterfly came to be. I looked around at the sale items and saw a painting of a milkweed, bursting open, for only two dollars. How coincidental was that?

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We left the sale and walked to the alley. It was quite windy and pieces of blossoming thistles were blowing everywhere, like a thistle sandstorm. We both knew it unlikely we’d get photos of the butterfly before it flew away. We searched for a space among the milkweeds and waited for the wind to die down.

“I hope we find some snakes!” Monique said excitedly. I remember her and her sister, Giselle finding a nest of baby snakes as youngsters. They were both thrilled. I was scared.

“I pray we do not!” I told Monique.

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Monique reached into the vase and carefully removed the delicate creature. Amazingly, there was a lull in the strong wind for a brief moment and it sat on Monique’s hand, before spiraling downward into the tall grass.

I gently picked it up, but it soared away before Monique could snap a photo. Now, I’ve released Monarchs before and they usually stay nearby for a half hour or so and slowly acquire the skill of flying. Maybe because it stayed in the vase overnight, it had already developed the skill of trying out its wings. Because it took off, flying over 35 feet in a second’s time.

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Monique and I were shocked at the butterfly’s progress as we lost sight of it.

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Then, Monique said something very sweet to me.

“Why don’t we search for another caterpillar, Mom? I know how much you like them.”

And, so we did. In the scorching sun on a windy day.  None to be found today, though.

But time spent bonding over butterflies with Monique is time well spent.

 

 

 

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