One of the challenges with my job is that I’m entirely self-directed. Completing assignments, finding work, staying occupied… it’s all on me. While I’m usually pretty disciplined, I occasionally wander off.
Recently, I had a “wander off” day when I discovered that a moth (or butterfly?) had emerged from his cocoon and was trying to fly on my patio.
After I discovered him clinging to the bottom of our fur- and rust-covered patio umbrella, I was enthralled. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon watching him struggle to unfurl his wings. He would take a few tentative steps, try to flap, then cling to the umbrella base. Huge amounts of time passed without him even twitching. Metamorphosis must be incredibly draining. Here he is trying to unfurl those wings (while Cooper slurps water in the background):
Anyway, that day Cady was over, too. I realized that all four dogs were as interested in this little guy as I was, but their intentions were entirely different from mine. While I wanted to marvel in this miracle of nature, they wanted to eat him.
So I knocked off work early and sat outside with my book and stood guard over the moth. (Quick aside: Does anyone know if this is a moth vs. a butterfly? Or what kind? I tried to look it up online but didn’t find anything too useful.)
I sent John a dozen texts and picture mails, updating him on the status. (“He just moved a bit. His left wing seems stronger than his right.”) (Quick aside 2: What does this say about me that I found this fascinating enough to take the afternoon off of work? Hmm…)
When John got home, I showed him the moth and all the video I took of him trying to fly.
We went inside to feed the dogs, get the mail, all that fun evening house stuff. In the midst of our routine, an enormous gust of wind rattled the windows of our house.
Then it started to pour.
You guys, I was so worried about that little guy. He spent hours trying to unfurl his wings and had only gotten leftie undone, and even that wasn’t fully open. I was convinced that the poor thing perished in the summer storm.
It blew over as quickly as it started, and John went outside to check on him. By this point, I was very emotionally invested in this little guy. I had spent a good amount of my day keeping an eye on him, making sure the dogs didn’t eat him, and watching his progress. Now, with a brief storm, he could be gone.
(Quick aside 3: John made some comment about “nature” and “circle of life” and such, but at that point, I wasn’t having it.)
A few minutes later, he rushed in the house and said, “I found him! He’s clinging to a weed in the yard!”
So I trooped out, and there was the little survivor! Clinging to the underside of a weed on the side of our yard. I was so happy! And relieved! And since the storm had blown over, I figured he’d have the rest of the night to become a beautiful butterfly! Or moth. Or whatever.
For the rest of the evening, I’d poke my head out and see how he was doing. The storm seemed to traumatize him a bit because for the rest of the evening, the only thing he did on the weed was adjust his grippers (legs? tentacles?) around the leaf.
As it got dark, I would go out to check on him with the flashlight. He still clung to the bottom of the leaf. I debated moving him, but I thought that might be even more traumatic. And then I thought maybe other moths wouldn’t be his friend and there’s no way he’d ever get a girlfriend if he had human scent on him? (Or is that just birds?)
Around 11:00, we took the four dogs out for their last bathroom before bed. John had the flashlight, and we went over to check on the little guy.
We both bent down and peered through the yellow stream of light, searching the weeds for him. At first we couldn’t see him.
I was hopeful. I bet he flew! He finally flew!
We kept looking, then John spotted him. “There!” he pointed.
And there he was. Still clinging. But definitely not dead.
Then Lucas and Cooper, apparently curious about what we were doing, dashed over at top speed.
And Lucas stepped on the moth.
And I cried.