Fly, Butterfly, Fly!

As part of our Kindergarten unit on butterflies, our family received five caterpillars in the mail one day, in a little cup with food on the bottom and a lid on top.

One caterpillar was notably smaller than the rest. We watched them all eat, eat, eat. We watched them all grow, grow, grow. And then we watched as four of them miraculously hung upside down and dried to form their chrysalises.

The fifth caterpillar was stubborn, sluggish. Linnea encouraged it emphatically, “You can’t be a caterpillar all your life!” Finally, she joined the others hanging upside down.

We carefully moved the chrysalises to a mesh butterfly habitat and then we watched, watched, watched for several days as nothing happened. One afternoon while we were away, not watching, our first Painted Lady butterfly was born! The next morning two more butterflies fluttered around in the habitat, and another one wiggled around still in the chrysalis. We watched so closely as that one miraculously broke free and made its way out to dry its wings. How amazing!

We kept and fed the butterflies for a few days, but since we were leaving town for the Memorial Day weekend, we needed to release them. The last stubborn chrysalis remained, shaking sometimes. We entrusted it to our next door neighbors so they could share in the experience.

The morning we let the four butterflies go was a little breezy and overcast. The girls knew they wanted to release them at “Butterfly Meadow,” a grassy meadow in a park very close to us. Linnea aptly named it because we had seen many butterflies fluttering through it one day on a little hike.

I’ll let the pictures tell the next part of the story.  

the path to Butterfly Meadow
the path to Butterfly Meadow
Linnea unzips the habitat; butterflies hesitate.
Linnea unzips the habitat; butterflies hesitate.
Butterfly poses for the camera before sailing up into the air.
Butterfly poses for the camera before sailing up into the air.
Linnea follows butterfly into the meadow.
Linnea follows butterfly into the meadow.
“My favorite part of the school year,” Linnea says, “was the butterflies. I got to let them go, and they were beautiful. I got to open the lid to let the pretty Painted Lady butterflies fly away. I found one after it flew away, and I gave it leaves and flowers.”
Laurel tries to lure butterflies out using a dandylion.
Laurel tries to lure butterflies out using a dandelion.
Another butterfly poses before departure.
Another butterfly poses before departure.
The last butterfly lingers on a wilted flower petal, then flies away.
The last butterfly lingers on a wilted flower petal, then flies away.

Before this day, I had envisioned the butterflies rushing out of the habitat quickly.  One swift mass exodus. I never expected we’d have to coax them to fly away. They were a bit uncertain.

 What’s more, saying farewell to these beautiful creatures we had studied so closely felt surprisingly bittersweet. We felt sorrowful, but at the same time, we knew their potenital. Although they had hesitated to fly away at first, those butterflies never looked back or longed to return to the confining habitat in which we had kept them. No, instead of looking back, some soared up past the trees, up to the sky, rising up until they were completely out of sight. Free. The others fluttered far into the meadow and disappeared. Free.

The sheer joy of setting these creatures free to fly as high or as far as they wished — it overcame me. How exhilarating! Flying high and flying far was exactly what God created them to do! Their time on earth is brief; they usually only live a few weeks. They need to fly!  

While my children are still small and at home with me, I study them closely. These early years are caterpillar years. They eat, eat, eat, and they grow, grow, grow. Someday they’ll probably be more like those chrysalises, and I won’t so clearly see what’s going on inside them. They’ll feel awkward as they change. 

And then, someday, they’ll unveil. They’ll be beautiful butterflies.

I will let them fly as high and as far as God created them to fly. They, too, are on earth for just a brief time. They need to fly!

Nicole C. Mullen sings about letting butterflies fly.

Butterfly
 
Not yet a woman and certainly not a child
 
But I was caught somewhere in the middle
  
On that one Friday afternoon
  
And I, I remember mama saying,
 
“It’s time for you to go
 
Go out on and change the world and become
 
All that you have dreamed of”

And as the tears that she was crying

Fell from her face and shoulders she said

“Don’t forget who you are child, where you

Come from, where you’re goin’

‘Cause I’m always gonna be here for you

Fighting in your corner

So with every bow you take

Take one for those that came before you”

(Chorus)

Fly, Fly Butterfly Fly

Stand upon these two shoulders of mine

Spread those wings of yours and fly

Now I’m a woman and I’ve got a child

And I can’t believe the day’s gonna come

When she tells me that it’s time to soar

And I don’t know what I’m gonna do

Not sure what I’m gonna tell her

Maybe don’t forget who you are child

Where you come from, where you’re going

‘Cause I’m always gonna be here for you

Fighting in your corner

So with every bow you take

Take one for those that came before ya

(Chorus)

There is something sacred

About the letting go of those we want to hold

So tightly to, but somehow we know

They must move on

On for those who have a dream to make our future better

And on for those who will earn their wings

In spite of wind and weather

You tell ’em love is waiting there

Forever in their corner

So with every bow they take

They’ll take one for those that came before them

 With that, our Kindergarten year has drawn to a close.  But in many ways, I feel like we’re just getting started. So much to learn; so little time!

 
 
 
 

 

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