Besides leaving Mike behind while we were on vacation, we also left behind our butterfly chrysalises (or chrysalides . . . I actually looked up the correct spelling of the plural of chrysalis. I love the Internet). I didn't have high hopes of actually seeing the butterflies, since it looked like they would emerge while we were gone. Elena asked every day of vacation if daddy was taking care of the butterflies. The first one emerged the day before we got back, but the second one emerged the day we got back. We didn't get to see it actually come out of the chrysalis, but we did get to watch it for awhile and then let Elena release it outside. A very pretty swallowtail, if I do say so myself.
A few days later Mike found this one flitting around our zinnias. I love his beady little eyes, although his wings look a little worse for the wear. This is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, as opposed to the black swallowtail we raised.
Excuse for me for getting a little philosophical here, but this butterfly thing has been an unexpected bonus of having the garden. My hope was that it would encourage a sense of responsibility for caring for something for Elena, along with a knowledge of where vegetables really came from and hopefully a willingness to try some new things. But the butterflies got me thinking on a different level. Obviously there's no shortage of butterflies on this planet, but in my corner of the world, we created just one more safe place for a butterfly to live out its life. A carrot plant on which to lay its egg, that wasn't coated in pesticide. Flowers nearby to drink nectar from. Every day I look at the sunflowers we planted and I can see finches and other birds picking at their seeds. As I go to gather the green beans that have twined their way up the sunflower's hefty stalks, I hear bees buzzing about, having a little pollen gathering party around me. I think about the disappearing bees and hope that I'm providing a healthy little corner for them so they can keep providing us with the fruits of their labor. Yes, we are hooked. Maybe next year, if you haven't been bitten already, you will be too.