the valentine moth

Many, many moons ago, our eagle-eyed Rachel spotted a distinguished, bright yellow caterpillar crawling along our porch railing.  To her disappointment, she had no time to study it as we were on our way to hither and yon.  Upon our return late in the evening, she was overjoyed to discover a chrysalis tucked away under the railing in place of the caterpillar.

The chrysalis was carefully placed inside a quart jar and brought inside the house.  Days turned into weeks and weeks into months.  We kept a close eye on the jar’s contents, often convinced that whatever had been inside the chrysalis must surely have died.  But occasionally, the plain brown shell vibrated and emanated scratching sounds.  So we continued to hope.

Yesterday morning, Rachel runs yelling through the house, “The chrysalis is hatching!  A butterfly is coming out!”  We all run to the kitchen table to discover a barely hatched, furry creature.  It struggled to find purchase on the slick surface of the table and the outside of the quart jar, seemingly agitated and unable to settle on a resting place.

Finally, our little friend settled on our valentine jars.

valentine moth

He preferred Sidney’s heart with the binary border.

He stayed there the rest of the day and we paused often in our work to observe his slow metamorphosis.

valentine moth 1

valentine moth 2

valentine moth 3

As its wings unfolded, we were able to identify a luna moth.  He made our Valentine’s Day extra special as we created simple valentines for each person and dropped them into our jars.

The children enjoyed planning and carrying out “heart attacks” on Aunt Jane, the Grandmas and Grandpa.  Even the guys who work for us were not safe.  Their vehicles were parked down the hill from our house and fair game.  This game involves sneaking up on the victim’s door or vehicle and taping hearts all over it.  The message “You have just been given a heart attack!” is scribbled on one heart.  For those not watching their sugar intake, we also left bags of candy.

My mom came over for supper and we took turns pulling a valentine out of our jars and reading them aloud.  There was some sap and teary eyes and also some laughter.

My eldest wrote on the valentine he made for me —- “Mama, I love the way you make me delicious food, even when I tick you off.”

Among Rachel’s valentines messages were “Bossy attitude, sweet nature” and “You have the awesome-est burps!”

Rachel wrote to Lincoln “You are loving and forgiving.  I love you even if you are a stinker!”

Daddy let Lincoln know that he appreciates him for his knowledge of uncommonly known facts like “the gestation period for rabbits.”

Daddy also let Prairie know that he especially loves her because she “always steals his coffee.”

Generally, Lincoln and I wrote all the sappy valentines and Daddy and Sidney wrote the goofy ones.  And the girls made all the highly detailed ones with pictures and even valentine books!

It was an especially sweet day.

One thought on “the valentine moth

  1. Wow…that is so cool! I tried to keep a cocoon when I was a kid but it never “hatched”. I was so disappointed! That is so amazing that your kiddos got to see this!

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