We took a 15-minute break (Recess) from our school work yesterday afternoon so that the kids could run around outside and burn off some of their energy. They were only outside for a few minutes when Eli started crying. Now, another main goal of Recess is for me to spend 15 minutes NOT in the same room as my children. (come on, homeschooling can get kind of intense!) So, I checked to make sure that no one was bleeding and counted to ten.
The crying stopped and I went on with my power-relaxing. About 60 seconds later, I was joined by Lila who insisted that there was a giant butterfly outside and I just had to see it. I told her, basically, that I really didn't feel like coming out to look at a butterfly. She went back out. Five minutes later, Eli came inside to tell me about this giant butterfly and how I had to come see it. I took a deep breath and told him the same thing I'd told Lila. He went back outside.
Once our Recess was finally over, I went to the back door to call the kids in to the table. I saw that they were both crouched down and examining something on the ground. I decided it was time to be a good mom and go see the butterfly. I'm so glad that I did! There was the butterfly, just hanging out in the grass. I thought it was pretty odd that this insect was just standing there and letting my kids get so close to it. I put a hand out and it crawled right up!
We all took turns holding the butterfly and exclaiming over its beauty. Since we were curious about why it did not fly away, I decided to do a little research. Lila noticed that one of it's wings was slightly torn (which you can see in the photo) and she hypothesized that this was the reason it didn't fly. But no, we read that butterflies can even fly with half a wing missing. I wondered if the cold weather had something to do with it. Bingo! Sure enough, butterflies cannot fly if they get too cold!
They are insects and, therefore, cold-blooded creatures. This little beauty was grounded by a cold front and a cloudy day. None of us were willing to leave the poor thing out in the cold, so I spent 15 minutes searching the house for something we could use as a butterfly cage. I finally happened upon a mesh laundry basket that I had completely forgotten about. For once, our Ridiculous Stash of Crap in the garage came in handy!
We made a little habitat for the butterfly and brought it inside. It only took Cookie about 30 seconds to spot the enticingly-fluttery-object-that-needed-to-be-eaten, so we moved it onto the dining room table where we could keep an eye on it. We really didn't know what to feed our little friend, so I put a slice of old orange and a tiny dish of sugar water in the cage. Lila added a pretty yellow flower. We had an amusing discussion about what to name it, but no one could agree.
Eli wanted to name it Beautiful because it was so beautiful. Lila wanted to name it Escape (ess-kah-pay) because it was looking for a way out of the cage. We finally decided that we could each call it whatever we wanted and then got back to our school work. We did not get all of our work done because of this diversion, but we learned a few things and had lots of fun. It's ironic that God had to beat me over the head with this teachable moment before I finally let go of my need for control and embraced it.
Our general plan was to keep the butterfly in the house for a day or two, until the weather warmed up and/or the sun came out. Doug and I were both a little worried that it was going to die, so we each tried to prepare the kids for that possibility. I was particularly worried since I never saw it eat anything and it didn't move much after the first couple of hours. And then there was the concern that we would take it out into the warm air... and it still wouldn't fly away.
However, I am pleased to report that it survived 25 hours in our care and we were able to return it to the wild this afternoon. Once Lila got home from school, we took the cage outside, found a bit of direct sunlight, and took the top off. The butterfly just sat there and basked for a while, so I put my hand out. It crawled up onto my fingers and then flew... to my face. It crawled around on my face for a while, which I choose to believe was a Tiny Butterfly Thank You.
It fluttered down to my chest, which I could only tolerate for a few seconds. It may be pretty, but it's still got 6 little insect legs and prickly feet! I tried to get it onto my hand so that the kids could hold it, but that's when our little friend finally found her wings again. We watched it flutter away into the late afternoon sun and we all felt joy and satisfaction. I also felt the disturbing sensation that there was still something crawling around on my body, but that passed.
Goodbye, Beautiful Escape!