It's utterly captivating to live with caterpillars and chrysalides, to feel somehow a part of the transformation. Monarchs are so beautiful in every life stage, so extravagantly gorgeous, and so accessible. What a gift from nature.
It is a very powerful thing to "give" a chrysalis to a child, for the young one to watch and ponder. Phoebe and Liam name each one and rush to follow its progress. Phoebe hasn't even finished her pancakes here, interrupted by the slow undulation of her J-hung caterpillar and the excitement that surrounded photographing its emergence as a chrysalis. She's the one who noticed it undulating, and without her I'd have missed the whole thing as I stood at the stove flipping pancakes.
I lined the kids up to take their picture and Liam said, "Hold on!" and scurried off to make a sign. "Combo, My little guy."
They're pointing at "their" respective chrysalides. Phoebe named the caterpillar in her chrysalis O'Connor. Her current caterpillar is named Juliana. Juliana is in J as I write. Combo hatched out yesterday, and it's Combo I'll feature in the hatching series.
I'm not sure many of us naturalists, as Kathi pointed out, have the opportunity to really understand what happens between the caterpillar and chrysalis stages--we have this hazy idea that the caterpillar "turns into" a chrysalis or somehow spins a cocoon. Moth caterpillars that chrysalize (if that be a word) inside a cocoon spin the silk cocoon first and then shed their caterpillar skin inside the protective cocoon. We don't think of caterpillars having the ability to spin silk, but they do, and the giant silkworm moths take it to extremes.
Butterfly caterpillars tend to shed their skin and hang as a chrysalis, no cocoon involved. But they still produce silk, if only just to use as a sturdy, nearly unbreakable hanging system. The chrysalides tend to be cryptic, often brown or green. The monarch's chrysalis, I think, is the most beautiful of all.
Perhaps it is the bewitching seafoam color or the shining gold buttons that made me think a monarch chrysalis would make the most lovely pendant, but of course the means to do that evaded me. A gifted glass artist in Wisconsin thought the same thing, and set about making that thought a reality.
I first saw Jude Rose's work hanging around the prescient neck of my dear friend, naturalist Liz DeLuna Gordon. You may remember her wedding to naturalist Jeff Gordon
, in which my fairytale girl Phoebe dressed up as a luna moth
and Liam bore the (toy) train. Because Liz isn't the type to have a train dragging through the pine straw.
We certainly remember it.
So Jeff and Liz turn up at my Letters from Eden
art show opening at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art
in Pennsylvania last October, and Liz is wearing this jade-green glass chrysalis necklace, and I zooped over to her and touched the pendant, murmuring, "Where did you get this? Must have this! Must have this!" It was one of those moments when you realize that someone has had the same thought as you, but they've taken it and run with it and made something of it instead of idly musing about it.Bill
noticed, and with Liz and Jeff's help, he got me one in time for Christmas. He's good that way.
I wore it once, and put it in my pocket prior to taking a shower. Threw the pants in the washer, then the dryer. The pendant, so longed for, so beautiful, emerged chipped and bashed, basically toasted. It is made of glass, after all.
Ashamed and abashed, I emailed its creator, Jude Rose
. I explained what I'd done, how crushed I was at my own stupidity. I sent her some jpegs of paintings I'd done of the monarch's chrysalis transformation, so she could see I wasn't just a careless lummox. I was a creative careless lummox.
I asked if she might repair the damaged pendant. And, bless her generous heart, she suggested a barter --of a signed copy of Letters from Eden
and one of my limited-edition prints for a brand new chrysalis pendant.
Jude went into the studio and fired up her blowtorch to make a chrysalis especially for me. She emailed me to tell me the piece was done. "You must have really good nature karma, because this chrysalis is one of the best I've ever done. It just made itself."
I've taken good care of it, never again putting it in my pocket, and here it is, hanging with two real chrysalides. I love this pendant so much, and everywhere I go, people ask me where I got it, who made it. It's delightful to find how many people recognize it as a monarch chrysalis, and they all ask, "Is that REAL?" Well, I guess it's a fair question, because the Science Chimp has been known to use cast-off cicada skins as earrings and brooches...
Go see Jude Rose at Ancient Child Studios
, drop a heavy hint to your significant other, or just up and get one for yourself. I find wearing it empowering--it is such a symbol of rebirth and change. Rebirth and change--essential skills for women everywhere. Men, too. And it's imbued with the beautiful spirit of its creator, who looked at a chrysalis and somehow figured out how to replicate its shimmering color and delicate beauty in glass and gold.
Should you fall for this pendant as I did, tell Jude I sent you. She's the mother of twin toddlers, and can't do the kind of production she once did, but she tells me she's up to the challenge of making a chrysalis just for you. Let's hear it for artists who are also moms
**. They do the neatest things, despite it, and, I've discovered, because
**This links to the plot summary of a brand new film I'm dying to see, because Margaret says it's wonderful.
Waiting waiting waiting for it to come out on DVD, 'cuz it ain't coming to the Pioneer Cinema.
Labels: Ancient Child Studios, glass chrysalis pendant, Jude Rose