Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Above

I love these photos my daughter took over the weekend. I've been so busy lately with end-of-school "stuff," that I didn't have many photos from which to choose and about which to write. When I downloaded these from the camera, I claimed them for a few thoughts. Bailey is looking out the front window in his favorite spot. Charlie is in the kitchen looking like he might want to pounce down upon the laptop cords. "Is it a snake or a mouse with a really long tail?"

If someone--God-- were looking down on me right now, I'm afraid I would not look as peaceful. I have my irons in too many fires. Work, schools, home. Tomorrow, I play "Mother Goose" for a special first grade program, and I'm pulling together the last pieces for a family arts festival. Whew. After this weekend, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

When I'm busy, my family feels it. The house gets cluttered. The laundry piles up. My patience is short. I need more forgiveness than usual.

I slept with our last caterpillar assuming the "J position" on the bedside table last night. I knew he or she was close to transforming into a chrysalis, and I really wanted to see it. I tried to stay awake, but I needed sleep just as much as I wanted to see the metamorphosis. Finally, I turned out the light and trusted that the transformation would happen even without my eyes-- and that someone else might be watching even while I was sleeping.

I hope that there is someone above, below, around, or in us watching all of us-- people and caterpillars and more-- in our daily transformations. Even so, there was another chrysalis to behold this morning--green, gold, and still-- and this is something for which to be thankful.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009


I started out looking for a video about butterfly metamorphosis-- particularly a monarch caterpillar pupating. This morning, I missed seeing this "live" because I was on the computer. It happened in about one and a half hours. Buddy was in a "J" position at 6:30 am. He was a full chrysalis at 7:45 am. My daughter blogged about it and took photos here.

So, I searched my best friend, YouTube, for videos knowing that others have caught the mysterious and miraculous process on film and pixels. I wasn't disappointed.

Here is a short video of the process from egg to butterfly:

You can find many others by searching for "monarch butterfly" or "pupa" or "metamorphosis." It is truly remarkable. When I was a child, this was not possible. I would have been lucky if my local public library had a book with photos of the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. Now, the world is at our desktop or laptop. I love it.

Winslow is now in the "J" position.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sharing Nature

On Monday, I took Winslow to St. Therese Catholic School to share with all of my students from 4 years old through 6th grade. I pulled a few books about butterflies before the classes came downstairs. Mondays are primarily days to return old books and find new books, so there is not much time for a lesson. However, all classes were fascinated to observe Winslow eating his milkweed leaves and leaving his frass (caterpillar poop) around the container. In the photo above, 5th grade students read Winslow a book by Lois Ehlert titled Waiting for Wings. Apparently, he needs to know what next steps he might take as a caterpillar.

I am moved by seeing how much Winslow grows each day. I am equally moved by watching others of all ages encounter Winslow.

Happy Earth Day!

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two and One

Two girls.
Two friends.
Two butterfly dresses.
Two pairs of white shoes
on two pairs of feet.
Two hands.

Two leaves,

Note: I took these photos this morning after church. The flowers were in my friend's yard, and she thinks they are from a sycamore tree. Are they flowers? Are they fruit? Please correct me if I am wrong. In any case, they are beautiful-- especially against the turquoise dress.

From 4/21/09-- My friend Jennifer discovered that this is not a sycamore tree. It is a yellow poplar or tulip tree. Thank you so much!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Tending to Nature

Meet Winslow and Helen. Along with Buddy, Tiny, Slinky, Hidey 1, and Hidey 2, my family is rescuing a few monarch butterflies and watching their journey from egg to butterfly. I'm having a blast. My kids are, too. In just one week, little white eggs hatched into tiny caterpillars. One caterpillar, Buddy, is already 2 and 1/2 centimeters and growing.

I bought a milkweed plant from the nursery today to plant in our backyard butterfly garden. The milkweed on which we found the eggs is a different variety and was in a large pasture. We'll see if this nursery plant will attract the next generation of eggs. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the butterflies we release lay their eggs on our new milkweed plant so that we can watch the process all over again?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Among the Trees

When I am Among the Trees

by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

From Thirst. Poems by Mary Oliver published by Beacon Press, Boston, 2006.

This is one of my favorite poems-- ever. I have a lot of favorite poems by Mary Oliver. Her words and images resonate with my experiences and crystallize them in beautiful, prayerful ways. I love poetry as much as I love trees and leaves. April is National Poetry Month, so I indulge in poetry's words a little more than usual.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Rain on Easter Afternoon

I watched the clouds all afternoon
waiting for promised thunderstorms
and rain
to nourish and bless my dear friends
standing tall
reaching high
welcoming, inviting, and transforming.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Family & Frivolity

Amidst the Alleluias of Easter Vigil and Easter morning, there is also a hefty dose of frivolity and family. Since my husband is the priest in the family, I balance it out and make sure that everything else happens. I bake a bunny from bread every year. I am the Easter Bunny's assistant in preparing the baskets. I take the photos of sweet children in pretty clothes with Easter baskets to commemorate the day forever. I love the trumpets, bells, incense and rumbling organ of a beautiful Easter worship service.

But, I also love the quiet moments that happen in between, before, and after. Asparagus roasting in the oven. . . Brussels sprouts. . . shallots. . . new potatoes. . . yellow roses on the kitchen table that a friend gave me yesterday. . . hemming a new skirt for spring. . . planting sweet and purple basil . . . a day off from work tomorrow. . . watching the sky turn from blue to gray. . . bar charts of Easter candy on the floor of the living room . . .

The highest category on the bar chart? Hershey's chocolate eggs. I can help with that.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Butterfly Egg Hunt

This morning, we participated in a different kind of egg hunt-- we searched for Monarch butterfly eggs. The event was sponsored by the Clinton Community Nature Center at Choctaw Trails in West Jackson. Apparently, the fields there house a large collection of milkweed which happens to be the plant that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on.

It was a glorious morning full of possibility and hope. The sun shown, and the cool wind blew. We ran through open spaces and paid attention to the ground. We searched for milkweed and examined each leaf for the tiny, white eggs. Amazing. Miraculous.

It is now our responsibility to tend the resulting caterpillars. We have instructions. We have the supplies. Now, all we need is time and care and hope. The eggs which result in caterpillars and eventually into butterflies will be ours to release into the world. We will have helped the process, a little. We will have rescued a few butterfly eggs and larvae from fire ants and other predators which are serious threats. In a very small way, we will have aided the earth, the environment-- creation.

What a perfect way to celebrate Holy Saturday and the coming of Easter tomorrow. We were with dear friends-- moms with children as full of possibility as the butterfly eggs.

Happy Easter-- Happy Passover-- Happy Spring.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Hiding in the Grass

My son's school celebrated spring on Thursday with an egg hunt. Little, plastic eggs filled with sugary goodies were everywhere on the playground-- on the playground equipment, along the fence, in the middle of clover clumps. The bees were everywhere, too(and fire ant mounds), so parents said little prayers that no child would leave the hunt with tears instead of smiles.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Fading to Green

Every day I say to myself, "how can I take another photo of this tree?" I mean, just how many photos of leaves and sunlight does one really need? But, every day, this tree amazes me, and I am compelled. My neighbors must think I'm crazy. One has stopped to ask me if we are selling the house and gathering photos for a listing. "No, I say. I'm just taking some photos for fun." It is fun.

The deep burgundy is beginning to fade to green-- especially from underneath the leaves when the sunlight shines through. I wonder what mixture of colors it will be next week? I'll be watching and waiting to see and share.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nature's Knitting XI

Winding up some sky--
Sun, clouds, and storm.
Reaching through the trees
Towards a vast blanket
Knit from stars,
And birds,
And hope.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Walk Around the Yard : 5

These crepe myrtle leaves look like they could be fall leaves, but the leaves below (from a different crepe myrtle) reveal the true season with spring greens.

The Japanese maple could also trick you into thinking it's autumn, but the lavender azaleas in the background speak of a different season.

I miss fall. I'm not sure that I'm ready for spring and Easter. My personality is definitely fall.

I love this tree. It eases me into spring with its gradual turn from red to green. It centers me as I come and go from my home. It reaches into my heart and soul with its colors, gentle movements, quiet sounds, and cycles.

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