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Friday, August 11, 2017

He LIkes Me!

We have enjoyed an amazing adventure as a family in the last few weeks. It started in the garden. We had a bumper crop of dill that had sprawled from the herb bed over and around the vegetables. Some of it found its way into the many jars of pickles Kristen made with the companion crop of cucumbers. Teion brought in a bunch of the dill blossoms one evening when they were here for family dinner. This bouquet sat on our kitchen table where we enjoyed the beauty and the fragrance!
But the dill outside was growing more than flavor. We showed Nora tiny caterpillars that were munching away on the ferny leaves.  One night she brought in 2 tiny bunches of dill with caterpillars  hanging on that were only about an inch long!  She had them in some little containers, along with a bit of dill for their snacking. The next morning, one of the lids was ajar and the caterpillar was gone.

After a few hours, the little caterpillar was spotted a whole room away climbing on the tile at the back of a counter by the kitchen table. Maybe he smelled the dill on the table and was headed for breakfast! We put him in a large glass vase with more dill where he was soon joined with a number of similar caterpillars. We watched as the first caterpillar ate and grew fat.

This made for many conversations about what Nora began calling her paterkillars. The clear container allowed all of us to watch the progress and anticipate changes that would come. We added some sticks so there was a spot for shedding skin,  spinning a tiny thread out to hold a chrysalid.   We watched as the chrysalis changed color and were all cheering when "our" butterfly emerged, hanging limply and slowly moving the beautiful wings to strengthen and dry. When it was time to release the butterfly, Nora and her mom took the jar outside and Nora's butterfly friend sat on her arm gently for a few seconds before flitting away to the flowers in our garden.

So far, this process has been repeated 8 times!  Our swallowtail population is increasing!  Joe and I enjoyed doing this with Nora's dad and his brothers, and love doing it again.  The butterflies are beautiful, but the most beautiful of all is Nora's excitement and wonder!

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