i was weeding a flower bed last week, when i came across a monarch caterpillar. not a huge surprise, since the zinnia bed my landlord planted before he left, has been attracting many species of butterfly, including monarchs. but from what i understand, monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed, and milkweed is the exclusive source of nutrition for the monarch caterpillar. we have no milkweed in our yard.
so, i put the caterpillar in our old aquarium (minus the water, of course) and went down to our neighborhood stand of milkweed to pick some. i ran into ria, the one who stewards the community garden beds that run along brayn creek. she told me about the milkweed stand, and said she thought many of the caterpillars that hatched there this year didn't make it due, perhaps, to wasps. so, i felt it was important to do what i could to help my caterpillar make it to butterflyhood.
the little striped thing went to town on that milkweed. for two days, all it did was munch, sleep and poop. then carl and cosmo and i headed down the street for fresh milkweed, after dinner, on the third day. we left the caterpillar in the aquarium, inside the screened in porch.
when we returned, about an hour later, he had vanished. seriously. into thin air. i was baffled. first off, there was no reason for him to wander, and he hadn't been interested in exploring anything but leaves the whole time he had been in there. it wasn't like he was constantly searching for a way out. there were a couple of holes in the lid that were big enough for him to fit through, but it was difficult to imagine it happening. even if he did escape, how far could he get, in such a short time? i searched all around the immediate vicinity. not a clue. nothin'. nada.
my emotional response to the caterpillar's disappearance surprised me. i was devastated. cosmo seemed slightly bummed, but he clearly was not as invested in this little project as i was. carl was as confused as i was, and comforted me at first, but then, ya know... there is a kid to bathe, read to and get into bed...life goes on.
but i could not let go. and i had to fight back tears for the rest of the evening. that night, i dreamed the caterpillar returned, and i swear, i left some leaves out on the table, just in case.
but the next morning, he was still gone, and i had to face the facts, even if it didn't make any sense.
there is a larger life lesson here, i think, for other things that are currently bringing me down. someday soon, i'm afraid i am going to wake up in the morning, realize that this beautiful opportunity for meaningful transformation of our broken health care system has been hijacked by the heartless, misinformed, right-wing fringe. i won't understand it. there won't be a rational explanation for it, i will be devastated, and...i will have to except it.