They start off in caterpillar form and are juicy dinner for birds, lizards and even small mammals. It’s amazing they make it to the next stage, forming a cocoon. They’re in that stage for about two weeks but have the ability to stay that way throughout the winter. The butterfly emerges as an entirely different creature than its caterpillar form.
When I taught third grade, we learned about the four stages of a butterfly as part of the science curriculum. My colleague and I worked as a team so we came up with the not-so-creative idea of folding a white sheet of paper into four parts and have the children label and draw in each square. Those would proudly be displayed on the wall outside our classrooms.
One day after school, she was hanging those designs titled Four Stages of a Butterfly so they would be ready for Open House the next night. I admired the works of art as I went along the hallway. Imagine my surprise when I came across one that said Four Stages of a Buttfly. We had a good laugh and she thanked me profusely for catching the mistake.
Butterflies have always been a part of my life, whether chasing them as a child or teaching about them at school. It’s not surprising they are now important in another way. I like to include them in my books because they’ve taken on a whole new meaning.
A Monarch visits almost every August on my birthday. I’ve come to believe it’s my dad stopping by with good wishes. A few times it didn’t come and that’s okay. It’s all in my mind anyway, right? How could something like that be true?
One year, after my birthday and no sighting, imagine my surprise when one flew right at my car’s windshield so I couldn’t miss seeing it. It was as if Dad was saying, “See, I didn’t forget.”
As a writer, I like to tuck things away in my books that others may discover and wonder if there’s a little significance to their find. Butterflies are one of those wonders. And now you know why.