Today I received the most extraordinary 'Special Delivery'. Our post man arrived with quite an unassuming parcel, a box wrapped ordinarily in a grey plastic sleeve, belying its extraordinary contents, for inside the box, wrapped in layer upon layer of cotton wool rested six Blue Morpho butterfly pupae. The excitement that built as I teased the layers of cotton wool away to reveal them felt as if it may lift me air borne like a butterfly myself! Oh such perfect buds of life! ~ they rested there like the most exquisite jewels... emerald bright, gleaming with a light that can only be borne of life itself, like the twinkle in our eyes when they catch sight of something beloved.
Having come back down to earth, my mind set about recalling the careful instructions I had been given to implement upon their arrival, for it was not entirely unexpected. They had arrived in Dorset (via a butterfly house in Stratford) from the rainforest in Belize, their journey overseen by an expert lepidopterist (... my imagination had in fact been romancing their journey for days). Neil had already fashioned me a display case with in which he had carefully secured two branches from which to suspend the pupae, allowing enough room for their miraculous blue wings to unfold. With ventilation holes and a soft moisture retentive floor, the conditions of what I euphemistically named our 'butterfly theatre', would hopefully remind them of home and encourage them to flourish.
With Neil's help I carefully tied a fine silk thread to the stem of each cocoon and secured them carefully to the branches inside the case. Much to our delight and my nervous excitement (the adage 'butterflies in my tummy', so very pertinent to this experience!) one or two wiggled as we delicately handled them. I read that this 'wiggle' accompanied by a noxious scent is a warning designed to deter predictors in the wild. I then misted them with a fine water spray... a very controlled synthesis of a tropical rain storm, and closed the case.
And now we wait. Childlike, I keep returning to the case and gazing at them in sheer wonder, studying the extraordinary beauty of their form, their colour... awed be the process of metamorphosis I know to be happening within
Today the pupae are seemingly resting quite contentedly, however, I understand that the life within, though incapable of true movement, barely breathing and taking no nourishment is far from inactive, It is undergoing the most incredible transformation.