Tending to the Gardens
Aug 25, 2015
Tending to the gardens.
It was time to tackle the gardens. Vegetables had grown beyond belief due to the frequent rains and plentiful sun the week before. Zucchini had blown up to the size of the barn while I was away playing at the cabin. Ok, I exaggerate but they do tend to bulk up as if on steroids if they don’t get picked. Same with the beets this year. Amazing. Then in each of the perennial beds, weeds were beginning to outnumber the flowers. Grasses were creeping in. Milkweed which I had intentionally not pulled earlier this summer had shot up to shoulder height with seed pods looking like they would explode any day.
That’s when I saw it. The outer edge of the milkweed leaf was disappearing before my very eyes. A fat monarch caterpillar was eating enthusiastically, voraciously even. It had been a couple years since I’ve seen this sight, so it made me happy. This is why I had chosen not to pull milkweed, long deemed a nasty weed in our agricultural community—hoping to attract a monarch or two. As I progressed through the flower bed, I saw another milkweed and yet another monarch caterpillar nearby. It was significantly smaller, as if a newborn. It wasn’t eating, rather exploring. Like a replica of the first one, a medium-sized caterpillar appeared on yet another milkweed plant.
As I pulled weeds around the tallest milkweed plant, it was right there, third leaf from the top. Dangling. Swaying in the wind on the gusty August afternoon. A chrysalis of a monarch butterfly, hanging from the underside of a leaf. A compact, one inch long, light green chrysalis, adorned by speckles of gold, like living art.
I could have put it off, could have waited to tackle the weeds. The rewards? Many. A chance to be curious about the symbolism and messages from the garden. A reminder of the sacred cycle of life. A preview of coming attractions.
It pays to tend to our gardens.