We’ve been watching the progress of four monarch caterpillars in our little garden. They’re enjoying the milkweed that Tim transplanted there earlier in the summer when we were planting pumpkins and squash. They’re in the very hungry caterpillar stage right now, but we’re hoping to watch them transform into pupas at any moment.
When we visited the zoo this week, we were reminded that monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles every year, fluttering all the way from the upper midwest to Mexico. I complain when I have to make the eight-mile drive into town. Maybe I would feel differently about the trek if I could fly. It’s all a state of mind, I suppose.
My family’s delight in the caterpillars reminded me of this poem by Mary Oliver. Do you know it?
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?