Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter: Life in the Silence

[Disclaimer: I am not a pet person, so the following won't contain much scientific data or insight.]

Two weeks ago, five caterpillars moved into my office--rent free. They're part of a mail-order nature project my wife put together for our 4-1/2 year-old grandson Dominic. As soon as those little guys greeted the sunny  kitchen light streaming into their plastic container, they received new names. Dominic identified them as Nikki, Dom, Dominique, Penny, and Caleb. And I really think that he alone could tell who was who, as the days progressed. We chose my office for their greater habitat, because my computers are on all night and generate some warmth on chilled Northern California nights.

The caterpillars arrived tiny and skinny. The three of us  watched in awe as they practically doubled in size every day, consuming chunks of poop-like 'food' from the floor of their container. A week later, we had five long, fat caterpillars who each could stretched from the bottom of the cup to the lid (their evolutionary destination). After a lot of up-and-down trips to check out the best locations for their crusted, enclosed chrysalises, the day came to attach. That was our signal to make the transfer to their mesh habitat.

So, here we are on the Vigil of Easter, watching the 'lifeless' chrysalises, waiting, knowing that behind those little  hardened cases, an amazing transformation is occurring. Five fuzzy caterpillar bodies are growing wings that, when strong enough, will burst the walls of  their tombs and fly into a new and world-brightening stage of existence as Painted Lady butterflies (even the guys among them). 

What a wonderful reminder of the meaning and joy of Easter!

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Alfred J. Garrotto is the author of The Saint of Florenville: A Love Story.