The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and has time enough. – Rabindranath Tagore
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from gardening, it’s that Mother Nature has her own rhythms. Mystifying and maddening though it might sometimes be, there’s an underlying order.
Why, for instance, is this Monarch caterpillar doing sit-ups on the milkweed leaf? No idea. Sassy little thing, though, isn’t she? If all goes well, she’ll shed her beautiful skin a couple more times, and then transform herself into a chrysalis.
Maybe one day, she’ll join the ranks of HRH, Mr. Monarch, who eclosed before our very eyes, just about this time last year.
I’m less inclined, this year than last, to fret when things go “wrong.” It’s a subtle shift–a metamorphosis, if you will–to see yourself as an invited guest at Mother Nature’s garden party.
Speaking of which: Cool cats that they are, 4th and 5th instar caterpillars are very much attuned to the world beyond milkweed plants that fuel them. By the time they’ve reached this stage,they’ve made least four wardrobe changes, shedding their skins as they grow. Cooler still, they swivel their heads in the direction of distinctive voices and loud music. Here’s what happened when I got close enough to say hello.
I’m learning as I go, and I cop to my share of mistakes. (I put just-perfect plants in altogether wrong spots, for instance; and I can’t get my First Love gardenia to love me back.) But I’m working very hard to create a garden that provides shelter and sustenance to winged creatures and wildlife, a beautiful respite for all.
I admire from a distance, zoom close with my camera. But when vulnerable creatures wander off into dangerous territory, as this tiny caterpillar did–flinging itself onto the hard, hot concrete, at least three feet below the plant pot)–I scoop them into a leafy cradle and return them to safety.
I’m planting the seeds of my own awareness…releasing expectations and accepting with joy the gifts available to me in this moment, in this place. Life lessons, learned best in Mother Nature’s classroom.
It’s a relief, actually, to let Mother Nature be the guardian of my secret garden.
Sure, the temptation’s there, and probably always will be: I want to run interference, to protect these treasures from harm. But as Eric said to me just yesterday, “You’re not Mother Nature, you’re Melodye. He’s a wise one, too, my husband.