Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer Seems To Flutter By Not Quite Letting Go

The air is crisper now as the harvest moon lights up the night sky.

The eclectic jungle of mine own plantings and that of natures intermingling is running wild and falling all over itself. 

I have only two Monarch caterpillars not yet morphed into their pupa phase, while I am daily releasing others that have fallen into their new wings. After slurping up their fill of nectar from around the gardens and dodging the dangerous beaks of birds, butterflies are flying south . . .  Mexico bound.

I still recall the excitement of seeing the tiny ones emerge from their finely etched egg casings. 

Onto a hairy landscape of Milkweed. 

Devouring its first meal . . . a protective now nourishing capsule. 

I marvel at how quickly they grow from instar to instar. 

Becoming more voracious eaters as they come closer to their final act. 

Nearly most of the summer has been filled with their wondrous antics and growth spurts. I have admired their courage too. Letting go when it is necessary to grow further is an important lesson these tiger-striped critters teach me over and again. They are gingerly about it sometimes and this one was no exception, holding on with only one proleg for over two hours, before finally allowing itself to fall head first into its new life.

Pulling up their familiar skin and trying to toss it free reveals a new beginning which was always within them. 

Times of stillness recur within any metamorphosis.  

Fresh in every way . . . new beginnings soon to fly . . . lighting up the sky. 

I recall fondly too the first Black Swallowtail butterfly egg I ever eyed. 

I delighted in getting to know the spritely fellow whose changes are more dramatic than my Monarch friends in wardrobe but not in speed of growth. 

I was very surprised to see this happen as I had thought to winter over with the chrysalis. 
I have offered two post on raising the Black Swallowtail. Here is the first . . . the second was just published today over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.

Out in the garden Fritillary butterflies played out their lives unseen by me until their debut in fancy dress. 

Another first for me this summer . . . a Buckeye (Junonia coenia!) What a treat to finally see and capture this beauty in my own garden. They sure do not hold still for long. 

Buckeyes migrate too and my 'Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies' tells me that  in the fall around Cape May their numbers rival those of the migrating Monarchs. 
So summer here is flying by but these images remind me of some sweet moments with delicate creatures who are not afraid to let go and change. 
We can all be inspired by their tenacity and beauty.


Sheila said...

Wonderful pictures!

Esther Montgomery said...

It's quite frightening, this process. I've never seen a Monarch Butterfly but seeing one is on my list of what I'd like to do in my life. The Buckeye is lovely-coloured but the Monarch stays at the top of it.


Larry said...

Carol... so wonderful to get to see another of your beautiful posts... I've missed getting into the gardens with a camera since my shoulder surgery, but posts like yours help satisfy the need to be a part of the early fall gardening scene... take care, Larry

Laila said...

The autumn sky, the jungle, the Monarch in its stages - every time i stroll into your blog I am stunned. Thanks for sharing your paradise with us in the blogosphere!

Tom Johnson said...

Lovely photos Carol.

Christine @ the Gardening Blog said...

Carol, your photos are absolutely gorgeous! The one with the two butterflies is my favourite!

scottweberpdx said...

Beautiful those stages of the Chrysalis!

Liza and John's Garden said...

HI Carol: Fantastic, I think I has said that before.

Have a great evening,

africanaussie said...

Your photography is superb, and I loved this compilation of the different butterflies you have in your neck of the woods. I especially love that close up of the caterpillars face :)

debsgarden said...

'Letting go when it is necessary to grow further' is an important lesson, among many we can learn from nature! As always, your photos and insight are superb!

Andrea said...

Another masterpiece from Carol, which we all appreciate giving us lots of ohhhh, ahhhh! Hmmm, how i wish i can take photos like these!

ann said...

Carol, I just run out of adjectives to describe your stunning camera work. Is WOW adequate? Hardly. But what else can I say? I am in awe of your beautiful work.

Randy Emmitt said...

The egg to cat photos stunned me! Great job on all of these! Meg raised buckeyes, it took 7 days for them to emerge. Not sure about them migrating though, they do occur in large numbers in the fall. My favorite are the 'rosa' form in the fall they are red on the outer wings.

Tammie Lee said...

i bow to you dear lady, this is an exquisitely wonderful post. you have captured and shared magical glimpses of the transformation and birth of life. Thank you for your passion, skill and artful heart and eyes.

Carolyn said...

Hi Carol,
I have never seen anyone who covers all the beauty of nature as well as you! Your photos and understanding of nature amaze me.


The Violet Fern said...

Truly magic! The harvest moon sky is stunning. So many butterflies! What a wonderful nursery you have. Love the capture of the Buckeye. Driving to the plant nursery (of course!) the other day, the Monarchs were flying over the road obviously on their way South - all of them heading in the same direction. It was great to see so many.

Carol said...

You are all so great! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I feel so blessed to be able to share with so many thoughtful naturalist/gardeners like you. I am humbled by your kind words of support. I love reading about your adventures with butterflies too. Thank you!
Esther, I do hope you will see this joyous marvel soon.
Larry, I am so sorry to read that you have hurt your shoulder. With your huge gardens to care for and your other beautiful work . . . it must be very hard for you. I wish you a speedy recovery. Thank you so for all of your supportive words and visits.
Thank you everyone for your generosity towards me and my work. Truly it means so much to me . . . especially at this time.

Patrick's Garden said...

Wow, wow and wow. What a wonderful close look into the development of a butterfly. It would be a great tool in teaching respect for them and the other beauties of nature in biology classes for kids. Keep up this quality work, please. said...

Wonderful photos as always and what a treat to see the Buckeye. Only have seen one once here (not at home). Oh how I wish one would stop by.

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Carol, I have never been so up close and personal with a butterfly caterpillar before. Your shots are just fantastic.

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Carol, You said it so succinctly -- my plantings are falling all over themselves at this time of year, too. The monarch butterflies are very special, and you perfectly capture their preciousness. P. x

Msrobin said...

Wow, you have captured some incredible butterfly pictures! How amazing!

Gardeningbren said...

Quiet time...just read your post and as always, inspiring, beautiful and encouraging. How precious a gift, sharing this with those who enjoy your blog so much. Hope all is well.

sweetbay said...

Marvelous pictures of the butterflies, Carol, just beautiful!

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

'...quickly they grow', 'Becoming more voracious eaters...' - sounds like you wrote about my boys-teenagers!
If seriously, Carol, your posts about these creatures are outstanding! I feel your love and respect for them through the sentences!

Sarah Laurence said...

Hasn’t the moon been spectacular lately? You capture it well in your first photo. I’ve noticed the migrating monarchs. That to me signals the end of summer. Very cool to flip back to the egg case beginning on this post.

Gorgeous skies in the post below too. Thanks for bringing some color to my rainy day.

Autumn Belle said...

Carol, it's been a while since I last visited here. If I could I'd visit your every post, all of which never fail to delight me with the scenic views, lovely blooms and daily celebration of life of butterflies. Now I look forward to the reds and golds of autumn.

The Giraffe Head Tree said...

OMG. Stunning, Carol. I wasn't aware that you've been ill. I'll be thinking of you in hopes that you'll be better soon.

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