Monday, July 25, 2011

the Swallowtail.



Every Summer, the Swallowtail caterpillar plows through entire harvests of dill. I have not one year seen my Mom and Grandma's gardens escape their presence.

This year, I planted an unusually large amount of herbs, and my patch of dill was a large portion of my herb garden. Within a few weeks of the time I planted my seeds, my garden was full of them.



They would grow fat with bellies full of dill, then one day disappear. A few days later tiny baby swallowtail caterpillars would be in their place...sometimes as many as 15.


Michael's little brother spent a good amount of the Summer with us, and one night, Michael and him devised a plan only two 16 year old boys could come up with. $20 would be paid to his brother if he ate one of my caterpillars.

"Why not? It's $20."

I tried everything. I begged, lied, told him they were acidic and warned him against the foul odor they spray when predators come around. That last part wasn't a lie...but I did tell him that they taste like bile and sour dill.



They probably do.


The reason I finally gave him was the one I gave Michael when he told me to get rid of them, and how they were pests to my garden.
One day, they will wake up and not be these little dill-destroying creatures. They will be worth more than $20.



The evening before his brother left to go back home, I was outside, picking the last of my herbs for the season. Trapped inside the tomato and strawberry cage was a little something I called him outside to see.



It was one of our little swallowtail caterpillars, all grown up.

To see this transformation happen within two weeks is breath taking. And I knew there was a reason why this year, I planted enough dill for the two of us.

This is the Black Swallowtail...our Oklahoma State Butterfly. It's a huge part of what I saw growing up here, and to me...that is worth more than all the $20 bills in the world.



Swallowtail - The Oklahoma butterfly from Aura on Vimeo.



song is "Ripe" - Givers.


...

Thanks for the weather encouragement and teething tips, friends. Last night, a few hours after I posted, we got our rain.

40 comments:

Annie Kennedy said...

I would love to see the "I'm here" photo printed really big in my house one day :) What a beautiful butterfly, and I must admit, the caterpillars are quite pretty too. Very striking colours. So glad you got some rain, I hope you danced in it! :)

Kathleen said...

This reminds me of the Eric Carle Book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Also, I am glad he was not consumed... by a human at least :)

Diana Twiss said...

When my blog grows up, I want it to be like yours.

LeAnna said...

Blog hopped here, and what a breath of fresh air your blog is! It's always fun to meet a fellow Okie, too. Aren't our butterflies so pretty? I read your post from Sunday and just nodded my head in heavy agreement. This heat. It's unbearable! Unfortunately we have yet to see much rain where we're at in OK. :/ Your little one is a doll, and I'm happy to have found your blog. Blessings to you and yours.

Tamara Nicole said...

Awww! Your posts are so deep I love it. Good thing he didn't eat it:-)

superhappyjohi said...

So Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Think you just solved the mystery of my vanished swallowtails (whose disappearance I attributed to the heat): I didn't plant any dill this year! Every year I've planted dill we have been swarmed with them.

wildchild said...

oh, so pretty! dumb boys, daring each other to eat things. a) that would have been gross, and b) just look at this thing. but i'm preaching to the choir. pretty video :)

bobbi said...

It was a wonderful creature before, it is an even more wonderful creature after. I have the garden full of snails and they used to eat all my basil and my mint. so this year I planted double portions, one for me, one for them. There's room enough for everyone in this world.

Julia at zoorebellion said...

Dear Aura, thank you for introducing me to the Givers. :) beautiful post as always. saludos desde espana.

sarah r. said...

i do love your posts, so much. they are just so introspective, and so observant.

but right now, this comment is to compliment you on your video editing skills. i'm continually impressed by you! what program do you use, and how in the world did you learn to do it? i want to learn!

<3

17 Perth said...

What beautiful photos Aura.....Your little friend is a beautiful little creature.
And, I'm so happy and relieved to hear that you guys got some rain.
xoxo

Nolita said...

Beautiful pictures and what a nice story. I used some dill in a salad last night that was so refreshing -cucumbers, yogurt, cilantro, dill and salt. My whole family loved it. Thanks for sharing about the Swallowtail. I haven't seen any in my yard in a couple of years and I wondered what they morphed into...any words of wisdom on tadpoles? I have a ton of them in my garden pond. We have some big bull frogs (2 I think) and a couple of big toads and I think the active batch I'm seeing are bullfrogs. I guess we'll know soon. Hope you and the family enjoyed the break from the heat yesterday.

Michelle Kendrick Hartney said...

You're a great story teller. Beautiful photos!

~3iNnA~ said...

I found a 2"+ caterpillar on our tomato (I took a picture and posted on my blog). I think our is the hawk moth or the tomato horned caterpillar. I am keeping an eye on our patch.

Our nasty caterpillar have a stinger.

Your caterpillar is quite colorful.

Urban Wife said...

It is so amazing that these caterpillars become such beautiful creatures! Lovely pictures! :) My tomato plants have been invaded by hornworms, much to my dismay.

Hayley said...

Aura, your videos/photos are just breathtaking and so very inspiring. I love seeing the beauty through your lens. What program do you use to make/edit your videos? I would love to make some for my grandparents back in the states. My husband and I are stationed overseas, by emailing photos/videos are how we can keep them in the loop. Keep inspiring us. You inspire me to slow down and breathe in the beauty around me.

Fashionably Learning To Be said...

What a lovely post. The pictures of the caterpillars and butterflies are so detailed and fabulous. The light is great. I have not seen caterpillars up close before!

I love fresh herbs, I need to plant some next year.

LRC said...

oh i love dill and herb gardens, but i love stories like these even more :)

Erin said...

So glad you finally got your rain!

Born of the Sea said...

love the video!
they are truly beautiful...

XXXX
-Morgan (Born of the Sea) <---my little blog

DJ said...

I never thought I would wish for a garden full of caterpillars. :)

A Cappelli said...

You are so incredibly talented in your ability to weave stories with words and photography. And, your videos are amazing. I always look forward to your posts.

Johanna said...

Nee eee eee eat!

Allison said...

this was such a beautiful reminder. thank you.

Anonymous said...

did you give hunter away?

Aura said...

@Anonymous- No, he's staying with family through the Summer. We don't have shade in our backyard, and my inlaws have a room in their house that their animals hang out in. We see him quite often, and he likes to give Elodie juicy kisses when he sees her :) We don't know how long he'll be with them, he seems to have taken a liking to their other big dog (we call them boyfriends) but I miss him terribly, even though I see still him quite a bit. The back story is that he was their dog for 5 years, (they got him when he was a puppy) he stayed with us for 3, and now he's with them for the time being. I call it joint custody. :)



To everyone that asked about the video program I use - it's Windows Live Moviemaker.

Maria said...

Can you tell about the thought process that went into naming your daughter? And what elodie and neda mean to you.

Maria

George Vial said...

i just read this post this morning and went out to water my garden and found my very own Swallowtail caterpillar climbing on my Queen Anne's Lace. I was so excited, and of course took a million pictures. i just thought it was a crazy coincidence and had to share. :)
-Tina

p.s. i love the video you made, so beautiful.

rach. said...

GREAT blog! you are so interesting and inspirational! and your style and taste is to DIE for! you are great! i would love for you to check out my blog if you get the chance, i would really like to see what you think of it! :)

follow me?
www.so--hi.blogspot.com

Michelle's Style File said...

This catapillar is simply beautiful! Great pics.

x
Michelle
www.michellesstylefile.blogspot.com

Amber said...

Wow. These photos are so incredible, feel like I can reach out and touch that caterpillar.

Ashley J. said...

It took me 15 minutes to find the Post a Comment button >__>

I just wanted to say, that is the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen! I love butterflys, my daughters 3rd birthday theme was butterflys. I cut out like 200 and glued them allover the walls: http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_570xN.251318644.jpg

So... did he eat it?

Karasyn said...

your posts are always so beautiful. I love how you can write about the simplest of things, and make them so extraordinary. :)

Andrea said...

Our parsley-loving swallowtail butterfly emerged Monday morning as my family began journeying back to their homes after visiting us. My mother had told me that swallowtail caterpillars had always invaded my grandpa's parsley every year here in Texas! Loved your post!

teh bobbi said...

Oh reading your entries is always so heart warming. I love how you are able to appreciate the tiniest creatures and the beauty they bring into our lives.

Also, Elodie is so effing adorable!!!!!!! I can't even handle it.

Taylor Yves said...

aura, where do you print your photos? i'm having trouble finding a quality place to print. i haven't had good luck using online services. do you just go to walgreens?

ps: i love the photo of sweet baby legs in a ruffle dress.

Huda said...

love the heart warming story. These swallowtail caterpillars are beautiful to look at, but probably a challenge for a gardener.

Bean said...

Your words are so full of wisdom and love. Elodie is very lucky to have you as her mommy. I look forward to your posts as they always make me think and sometimes, they absolutely take my breath away.

ThisLovelyLife said...

I got goosebumps! I love this so much! Such beautiful pictures and video. Thank you!