Today my daughter, “Teen Traveler”, and I set out to journey towards South Florida to release the malachite butterflies we have been raising from caterpillars for several weeks now. Since this species lives in South Florida, we knew we had to do the right thing when we purchased the caterpillars and get them into the South Florida vicinity to release them. Since the lifespan of the butterfly is usually only two to four weeks, we knew we shouldn’t keep them very long after their metamorphosis into a butterfly.
We drove two counties away and released them near an orange grove, as they feed on rotting fruit and flower nectar, and we wanted to ensure they had plenty to eat. We had a bit of a certain indescribable sense of sadness when we were driving to let them go into the wild.
My daughter said she was sorry to see them go. I explained to her that the butterflies are like many beautiful people we encounter during our lives. People come into our lives, and people go from our lives when we change schools, jobs, cities, etc…Life changes. Life changes a lot. The people that we are fond of don’t always stay around forever. Sometimes even death separates us, but we are somehow in some way, or in many ways, touched by their presence when we had them in our lives. I told my daughter that we can learn a lot about life from raising our butterflies.
- Like the butterflies that change forms from egg to several different types of caterpillars (instars) before assuming their final form, we, too, go through many changes and stages in our own lives. Sometimes we are not our most beautiful until we’ve gone through different stages within ourselves.
- People come and go in our lives, like the butterflies we raise, and we enjoy them while they are here. We try think about their release date, as we can enjoy the moments with them while we have them. All the moments.
- Sometimes the caterpillar hatchlings don’t make it to adulthood, despite our best efforts. Life is sometimes hard at times, but beautiful nonetheless.
- You have to work hard to find a place to blend in and settle, finding what you need, before you can become a chrysalis. Working hard helps. These caterpillars certainly were VERY busy.
- Sometimes we need rest, like a butterfly chrysalis, before we emerge as our best.
- Sometimes we want to stay holding on the warm hand that protects us before we find the strength to move on to do what we know we ultimately have to do. Staying on that warm hand for a while is good for a while, but then we have to find our own way as we become adults and move on to college, etc..
- Although the butterfly’s life is short, it always leaves behind something beautiful after it dies. The butterfly lives on, like us, in the generations that follow.
- We need to be very patient. Good things often take time.
My daughter held the butterflies in her hand in the butterfly cage during the whole ride to our release site. She was so gentle with them that it was such a tender moment whenever I glanced her way. When the engine to the car stopped, she asked if she could release them in the car before we released them into the wild. She thought it would be fun if they flew around the inside of the car for a while. We let them out of the cage in the car, but they didn’t fly around for some reason. I’m thinking that the car air conditioner was a possible reason, as the butterflies really like the temperature to be above eighty degrees before they fly.
My daughter gently lifted the butterflies onto her hand again when it was time to release them outside. She waited until they both flew away, having the peace of mind that they were well, and she somehow added something back into the circle of life. She was relieved that she didn’t damage their wings or legs when she touched them, too. I knew she didn’t, but she was concerned.
On the way home, we found a beach with few people on it and enjoyed some time together in the warm blue waters, laughing together and finding some shells.
“You tucked me in, turned out the lights
Kept me safe and sound at night
Little girls depend on things like that
Brushed my teeth and combed my hair had to drive me everywhere
You were always there when
I looked back…
…And when I couldn’t sleep at night
Scared things wouldn’t turn out right
You would hold my hand and sing to me
Caterpillar in the tree
How you wonder who you’ll be
Can’t go far but you can always dream
Wish you may and wish you might
Don’t you worry hold in tight
I promise you there will come a day
Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
Flap your wings now you can’t stay
Take those dreams and make them all come true
Butterfly fly away, butterfly fly away
We’ve been waiting for this day
All along and knowing just what to do
Butterfly, butterfly, butterfly, butterfly fly away…”
-“Butterfly Fly Away” by Billy Ray Cyrus
Life is good. Carpe diem, friends…………….