Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Gift

Happy Earth Day!

I've been too busy lately; busy at the computer, busy with projects. I haven't taken my own advice. I haven't been out in the yard. 

This morning the dog was barking at something and I went up the hill to see what had attracted her attention. It could have been a rabbit, a coyote, a raven. I didn't see anything but then, there on the ground was a butterfly clinging to the dirt. The mourning cloak butterfly, with its wings closed, looked like a dead leaf.

Was it dead or alive? I picked it up. It was motionless, but gripped my finger with surprising strength. I headed toward the house to take a picture. As I held the butterfly on my finger it started to vibrate, just slightly. It was like a shiver. It only lasted a moment, but before I reached the house the tiny creature shivered two more times. Each time the strength and length of the shivering increased. It was waking up.

Of course the batteries in the camera were dead and I couldn't find the extra set.

With a final quivering the mourning cloak awakened from its nighttime torpor, a mini hibernation. In the 50 degree evening temperature, the butterfly had gone into resource conservation mode. It's resting place, on an eastern-facing slope, had it positioned to warm up with the morning sun. But I had come along and disturbed it. 

Before I could get new batteries in the camera, the mourning cloak began to flutter its wings. I quickly scooped it up and released it outside. It flew up into the Chinese elm tree. Mourning cloak caterpillars.

The Bewick's wren chicks are begging for food from their haggard parents. The first lesser goldfinch chick of the season is learning to fly. And I held a wild butterfly on my finger and watched it wake up. Go outside and the wild creatures will show you what life is really about. Happy Earth Day!