Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Life and Death

A few days ago, we decided to slap a coat of cheap white paint onto our travesty of a shed. Before the painting could start, we needed to take a broom to the exterior in order to remove dirt, cobwebs, and anything else that might have impeded adhesion. During this pre-paint cleansing, I discovered a small, green cocoon attached to the wall about 6 inches off the ground. I removed the delicate chrysalis and gingerly carried it inside. The Discovery Channel taught me long ago that butterflies exit their metamorphic chamber downward, assisted by gravity, so I made a hoop out of a twist-tie and secured it to the refrigerator with a magnet.

Two days later, we spent the night in Liberty because Becky's parents needed a ride to the airport at about a quarter past the butt-crack of dawn. When we returned to our home that afternoon, I discovered this:

This butterfly did not drop out of its cocoon into the bottle-wash. The sink is about 10 feet from the refrigerator. That means the little fellow emerged, dried his wings, took flight, and then dropped into the bottle-wash. Did he die, then fall? Did he fall, then drown? I cannot say. I think I heard somewhere that Monarch butterflies live in their adult form for about 24 hours, which is just enough time to mate. So perhaps this insectoid miracle lived out an entire, sexually-frustrated lifetime right there in our kitchen.

I'm also not sure whether the yellow water was due to bacterial contamination or pigment leaking from the butterfly's gorgeous wings. I actually suspect pigment, since the color was clustered around the insect. Bacteria would probably have migrated throughout the medium. We re-washed anyway.

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