An untimely demise [Sunday, Aug. 12, 2007, 7:14 pm]
I have a creature story to share. They're rare, considering I'm generally not the type to bond quickly with animals, but there are always exceptions, and I suspect it's simply that a lot of domesticated animals are somewhat spoiled (cats, specifically) and thus tend to rub me the wrong way.
Anyway, my 6-year-old brother is quite the bug lover, and a while ago he found 2 monarch caterpillars on our milkweed plants, so he decided to keep them in jars and feed them until they turned into butterflies. One of the chrysalises isn't looking too good so I guess that one might have died, but today when we came back from my grandparents' house (my Grandpa just turned 80), they noticed that one of the butterflies was out!
So naturally it caused quite a stir, which had to be interrupted because they were all packing for their weekend camping trip which my sister and I are staying home from. Anyway, my sister held it for a while at first, and it was just crawling around, trying to dry off its wings, I guess. Eventually we set it on one of the hosta plants so it could crawl around better, and watched it for a while. Its wings were so beautiful! Especially when it first came out -they were such bright orange, and it had bright white spots all over its body too. I named him Alfred. Maybe because I still have Weird Al on the brain, I dunno... (see previous entry)
Well, eventually the family left, and I just sat out there for a long time watching it. For some reason its wings just weren't opening. I don't know how long it's really supposed to take, but I sat there alone for well over an hour, and even after they dried, they were still pretty wrinkly and stuck together. He tried flapping them a few times, but they still weren't opening up. After about 3 hours from the time he came out, I decided I needed to go do other things, so I put him much deeper into the plant, under a few leaves, because it looked like rain, plus I didn't want any birds to eat him. I was away for maybe 45 minutes, getting food at the store and renting movies for tonight...
When I got back I went over to the plant, and looked all over it but couldn't see Alfred anywhere. I hoped maybe he had finally flown away. And now I kinda wish I'd just ignorantly assumed that and gone into the house, but I kept looking for him in the grass, and practically cried when I saw these two crinkled butterfly wings scattered there on the ground... and then I looked and his body, with the two smaller under-wings was there in the middle. I'm assuming it was the work of a bird... That's the only explanation I can think of, considering Monarchs are poisonous to most birds, which would be why he wasn't eaten completely. I picked him up, and he was still alive because he clung to my hand, so I put him on a milkweed leaf and took him inside.
I felt so bad though! I mean, I know I'm not a butterfly babysitter, and I can't blame myself for nature's way, but if I'd only hid him better, or stayed out there longer, maybe that wouldn't have happened. But then, maybe he wouldn't have made it anyway - I don't know if what was going on with his wings was normal or not...
I know, it's a lot of drama for a little butterfly. I don't know if he'll last much longer - I'll try feeding him some sugar water, but he hasn't moved much lately. See, this is what happens when you name an insect. You get too attached to the bottom of the food chain...
Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is that even something as fallible and temporary as a Monarch butterfly comes about through an amazing design of creation... even though after so much time in a chrysalis, this beautiful butterfly can emerge and be fatally injured within only a few hours. And even if "Alfred" hadn't been (almost) eaten, he would have been dead in a few months or less anyway. Some may choose to look at that pessimistically, as I did at first, but again it reminds me of the verse (Matthew 6:28) where God talks about how well he clothes the lilies of the field - and that if he can produce such wonderful designs for things that are "here today and gone tomorrow," then how much more we must be worth to him, and how willing he is to provide for us if we trust him. That if he can orchestrate such an amazing process through which a butterfly is formed - even though it's only an insect that will not last long anyway - then he must care for us so much more than that - he must care about me and my future, and about the financial struggles I sometimes have. It helps me realize that nothing like that is any trouble for God, because if he uses such control and design for temporal things, how much more design has he put into the lives of all of us who trust him?
Vitality - Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009