Sunday, May 6, 2012



We found a caterpillar in our garden, munching on carrot tops, last October.  We brought it inside and watched the stripped creature make a chrysalis on a stick in a big glass jar.  I knew it couldn't survive as a butterfly outside in the dwindling autumn temperatures, and I was a bit perplexed about the timing of its transformation.  So we did a bit of research.  What we discovered amazed me: a black swallowtail butterfly can overwinter in northern climates.  A caterpillar hatched in late summer or early autumn produces a type of internal 'antifreeze' that prevents damage to its chrysalis during extended cold months of hibernation.  And yet even after reading about this phenomena in multiple places, I was skeptical.  

I was skeptical but hopeful all winter long when the chrysalis happened to catch my eye, sitting there cold and still on the front porch.

When spring came, I moved the jar out into a sunny, sheltered spot alongside the house.  Every now and then I would peek in and see if I could catch a glimmer of life.  A few times, I had to empty out water collected in the bottom after a night of rain.  Nothing else changed in the jar for six months.

And then, just a few days ago, we went out for a walk before dinner.  Jeffrey spotted it—unwrapping from a long winter's sleep!  Oh the looks of joy when we called the girls over to see!

Come Look!


There it was.  Unbelievably beautiful after emerging from a dusty gray shell.  A little spring miracle.  May we always remember the possibility tucked within the most humble of winter coats.



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