There just wasn't time.
We were leaving that morning for a week on the North Shore and the last thing I wanted was to leave Pete with another animal to care for.
She cupped it gently in her hands. "A caterpillar! Mama, can we keep it and raise a butterfly? Please?" (Cue puppy dog eyes.)
My inner dialogue went something like this: "NO. No, no, no, no, no."
Yes, raising butterflies had been on my list of what "good" homeschoolers do for-freaking-ever. And yet we had never done it. But now? Surely not now. The coolers were already packed. And we were leaving for a week. It made no sense. No.
My sister was visiting, leaving for home just before we left for the shore. She said, "I think it's a Swallowtail. They've been eating my parsley." She started typing into her phone. Yes, indeed. An Eastern Black Swallowtail.
I took a few deep breaths, glancing back and forth between the half-packed camper, the house, and the caterpillar, my pupils rapidly dilating. I tried not to sigh, whine, or scream. Instead I quietly asked in a voice that croaked with resignation, "What do they eat?"
Wild parsnip and Queen Anne's lace.
I sighed. "Okay. Get the gloves (so you don't get parsnip burns). You can forage them both alongside the garden. Go!"
I grabbed a glass gallon mason jar and some cheesecloth for a lid, then took a few more deep breaths.
I left a note for Pete.
"I'm SO sorry to leave you more animals to care for. Please harvest wild parsnip and Queen Anne's lace for Lupine's caterpillar. Sorry. I love you and you're freaking fabulous." Or something.
And we shoved the caterpillar and the wild parsnip into the gallon jar and hit the road.
Just two days into our trip we received a text from Pete. It was a photo of a chrysalis. As it turned out Pete didn't have to feed another critter after all.
And I was suddenly so glad I let Lupine and my sister talk me into this! A chrysalis in our kitchen. That was amazing. I was just sorry we weren't home to watch it form.
We returned from our trip and marveled at the transformation. And we waited.
And then this weekend as Lupine cleaned up a craft project in the kitchen I heard her gasp. "Mama! A butterfly!" And there it was, stretching it's wings for the first time. We didn't see it emerge but it hadn't been out for long.
And it was breathtakingly lovely.
Lupine ran around the farm and down to the pasture, collecting Pete and Sage. We gathered around her on the deck, each of us watching on in wonder. Lupine gently reached into the jar and let this glorious creature crawl out onto her arm.
And then – in an instant…
… she was gone.
What an amazing process to become a part of.
Oh, yes. I am so glad I let her talk me into this.
Because, as it turns out, there is always time for magic.