Habits are hard to break

Newchur, the once parsley eating caterpillar, has emerged from his cocoon. Just two week ago we discovered the big fat green fellar hanging in the side of his bug-cage - shaped like a stunted candy cane. As Bruce and I settled in to watch a movie last night I peered over at the bright yellow framed, screened box. Newchur's chrysalis still hung firmly and tightly closed at one edge despite the promise of butterfly emergence in 10-days that I had found online.

"You think maybe its too cold in the house?" I asked Bruce, doing that thing that irks him. The thing where I start talking in mid-thought as if he's privy to what's in my head.

"For the kids? Maybe, maybe Megan woke up because her feet are cold." he reasoned, thinking about how he'd just but the baby back to sleep.

"No, not them, well ok maybe them, but I'm thinking about Newchur," I wrinkled my nose and thought some more. "Maybe he won't come out of there because its just too cold or something. Maybe, you know, its like the other stuff in nature that depend on the temperature changes to know when to do their thing."

It made some sense. So out Newchur's cage went. I placed it out on top of our grill so we could see it from our kitchen window. Bruce wanted me to open the door of the buggy-jail cell so Newchur the butterfly could get out to spread his wings without cramping his style in the box. I refused. Logan would be heartbroken if the little guy got out before he got to see him in his new form.

I had forgotten about it actually. Forgotten when I rubbed sleep from eyes around 6 this morning - being beckoned by both kids. I had forgotten that we put him outside. We were playing for nearly an hour when I decided to do our routine check on the bugger. Ahh, no cage. Wait, cage is outside.

I got side tracked. I filled sippy cups. I located breakfast. Then I glanced out the window and the cage sitting upon the grill caught my eye. I could swear I saw something bigger and black hanging down from the center. No way, I thought, there is no way it emerged! I hurriedly told the kids I'd be right back. "Just wait here!" I thought, knowing that at least the one in the high chair wasn't moving anywhere for a change.

I stepped out the door and reached for the cage - and there he was. Newchur the butterfly. Wings still folded down and stuck together, but big long black legs attached to a beautiful black spotted body. His chrysalis abandoned. I ran back in side, the cage in my hand.

"LOGAN! Look!" I shouted and Newchur fluttered a bit. The two of us oohed and aahed. We grabbed my camera and took a picture. I opened the door and took another picture of him without the screen impeding our view. Logan yelled at me not to let him out, but it was clear then that Newchur was newly emerged and not quite ready to fly. Megan clapped. She didn't know why she was to clap, just that our excitement must surely be clap-worthy.

Logan retrieved Daddy from his ironing. Yelling until Dad came down the hall. We all marveled and then Logan asked to set Newchur free. So we headed out back with our caged butterfly. I had read that the Black Swallowtail Butterfly (which Newchur is now) like to feed on the nectar of Coneflowers. Most specifically the purple ones. And, as luck would have it, my wildflower garden is full of such a plant. We opened the door to the box near the flowers. Newchur continued his solemn march at the opposite side of the cage. Logan began to panic, having heard Daddy say that we needed to get him space to spread his wings so he didn't hurt them.

I pulled one of the shorter, smaller Coneflowers into the cage and dipped the head down near the prancing butterfly. When he stepped aboard I gently pulled the flower out. There he was, wings still stuck together at the ends, feet jittering as he found the right place to hang and check out the world in his new form. He fluttered, each time prying his wings apart a little more. He moved around. Logan and I watched him carefully. We took more photos. He taking a few that I can only hope includes more than just 3 year old toes. Meg joined us as Daddy got ready for church. The three of us huddled around this little creature rediscovering what life had to offer.

He fluttered with a bit more determination and got the wings open. The top and bottom sections falling into place and displaying the intricate beauty that nature can paint on such a creature.

"Oh, he's so pretty Mommy!" Logan sighed.

And then my mind raced. What was it I had read - male Black Swallowtail butterflies have more yellow on their wings. Females have more blue.

"Ahh, Logan, Newchur is a girl. She's beautiful." I took the time to explain as simply as I could what the color markings meant.

And Logan said "No he's handsome."

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