We would take them home, ask my Granny for a canning jar (of which she would use a kind of scary looking ice pick to pop holes in the lid of) and we would watch for what felt like an eternity as they became the beautiful butterflies that they were meant to become.
This was one of the highlights of summer, and we continued this tradition well into our pre-teen years (or longer). There was something so cool and mysterious about the whys and hows of watching Mother Nature at work - and the day that your chrysalis finally cracked open to reveal that gorgeous orange and black beauty never got old.
Well, let me tell you something - 32.5 years later, it is still FASCINATING.
A couple of weeks ago my dad brought over three little yellow, black, and white striped caterpillars for my girls. They were immediately hooked. They liked watching them crawl around and eat - and eat and eat and eat!! You can practically watch the little buggers grow and it wasn't long before we all woke up to two shiny, little green chrysalises hanging in our jars, looking like little jewels. The third caterpillar wasn't far behind. We watched over the course of the next 10ish days - checking, talking about the magic that was going on inside, reading books about monarchs, asking and answering LOTS of questions.
And this morning, we got the surprise that we had been waiting for - the first two chrysalises were ready to spread their winds and fly. All three of us were giddy. We called my dad over to see and to be here when we released them. After all, not only did he do this summer after summer with my brothers and I, but hatching monarchs is a special memory from his own childhood, too. He and I were as excited as the kids were.
We still have the third one left to hatch, and then I suppose we will be out in the milkweeds searching for more, just to get another taste of that summer butterfly magic.
Spread your wings and fly little butterflies - and little girls, you do the same. <3