About twenty years ago a woman stopped on a path near my parents to observe the beaver in Lake Elkhorn in Columbia, Maryland. We often went to see the beaver’s dam and the additional pond it had created for its beaver house. As a child I found this very cool and if I lived nearby I’m sure I still would. We were beaver fans, no pun intended, although as a labor and delivery nurse I have become something of an expert in the other kind of beaver, like it or not.
So my parents naturally assumed that this lady was feeling an equal sense of awe by the lakeside, the swimming rodent, the setting sun. They felt such a camaraderie that they said some nice words about their mammalian friend. The lady turned out to be in a different place. “Well trees have rights too!” she said.
This story cracked me up over spaghetti later. Those were more innocent glutenous days. But it also opened my eyes to the many different takes a human can have on the world. I mean I remember being thrilled when a Kohl’s and an Old Navy opened up in big box stores where a field used to be. I would not be stuck with weird clothes from Woody’s any more! Now I am pretty sure that those big box stores are Satan’s own house. You see, my perspective’s been turned like the wind, and I imagine it will turn again. We are fickle fickle little things, not necessarily at the top of the food chain (according to NPR) but certainly successful owing mainly to our ability to change change change. The Red Maples of the mammal world I tell you what.
(Hardcore Tree IDers: this is not the Redbud. Major bonus points to you if you know what tree it is!)
I tell you all this to also bring you some bad news, that perhaps could just as easily be taken as good news (if you are not this blogger). Overwintering is hard to do, not only because of the risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but also because there are a lot of other creepers overwintering, and darned if they’re not hungry. I am curious about the success rate of overwintering chrysalises in general. All I can say for sure is that there have been a lot of birds poking around for food in the weirdest places and today when I finally got the guts to check I saw that indeed my friend the Spicebush Swallowtail is no longer with us. The twist ties and the Redbud twig are still where I left them, but my pretty orange chrysalis is no longer dangling there by two strong strings.
I wonder, naturally, if I should have kept him inside, or let him go after someone brought him to me. I didn’t know then that he might be on the brink of overwintering. Overwintering indoors often results in too-early emergence or death by drying out. Maybe he would have made his chrysalis somewhere more discreet. I do not know. I imagine many are eaten by the hungry birds also struggling against poor overwintering odds . I certainly hope he was eaten by someone decent, like a Cardinal or a Chickadee. Perhaps whoever ate him was eaten too, by the Sharp Shinned Hawk I saw nosing around today. It’s the circle of life y’all. And carnivores have rights too.
Hope you get to fly around butterfly heaven buddy.