of summer rains and winged things

About a year ago the kids and I found a large and impressively-vibrant poison green caterpillar while at the Aberdeen bus station. It seemed in a precarious concrete-laden scenario so we brought it home to observe its transformation (we stopped at Rite-Aid to buy a jar as we were on bikes and couldn’t carry it easily and safely). The little creature seemed rather frantic (as far as I can tell for an invertebrate), waving its body around and spitting out strands of silk. That very day it spun its cocoon on a procured branch we’d included.

How long do such transformations take? I hadn’t even had time to take a picture of the critter and try to identify it, so I could not look this information up. We waited and the alien-looking, precisely-formed bundle remained inert. When we found our new house carefully we moved the jar to a windowsill on our porch. I watched anxiously as weeks, then months trickled by. I began to be sure we’d messed up. Ralph or a guest occasionally ashed clove cigarettes into the glass even. I felt terrible about this. I began to think we’d done something incorrect that had killed the animal, but what? I thought of carefully slicing the cocoon open to see what the insect looked like mid-change, but I thought to myself What if, what if it was still alive, then I will surely have murdered it.

Today as I closed the porch windows against the first real rain we’ve had in some time I observed the glass where it has sat for so long and to my surprise, the cocoon had changed, split neatly one-third of the way along the carapace, vacant and mutely perfect like the cap of an acorn. I looked about quickly but of course, she must have made her escape in the many times we’ve had our door oppen. I wondered if this has been the brilliant white moth I’d seen a couple days before, simply beautiful, regal, on my porch railing. In any case although I felt a small sense of sadness I had not elected to screen the top of the jar that we might observe the miracle, I was so glad she was free, ephemeral, unhindered by our human meddling.

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