I found a monarch caterpillar on my tropical milkweed several weeks ago and brought her inside, hoping to keep her safe while she grew and fed and made her transformation to a butterfly.
In this photo she’s a fifth instar, attaching herself to the top of her enclosure, ready to molt for the last time and enter the chrysalis stage.
Here she is eight days later. During the chrysalis stage the caterpillar liquifies inside the cocoon and reorganizes, almost magically transforming into a butterfly. Even after decades of research, scientists admit that the details of this metamorphosis are not completely understood.
Northern Virginia is well-known for a lot of things. One of the most pleasant is an extensive network of trails that connect neighborhoods and towns. Less than two weeks after moving back to our home here my husband and I ditched all the unpacked boxes and unfinished projects to go out on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, one of our favorites.
Jim likes to get a long run in, early on Sunday mornings, so I often take our Lab and walk at the same time. This past Sunday a side trail distracted me and I was rewarded with the discovery of the Fannie Mae Park in Reston, a beautiful oasis off the side of the W&OD, tucked among the trees.
I felt compelled to return the next day to explore farther, this serene place that I just happened upon, because one trail connected to another.
And so, it isn’t always just trails or bridges that connect. Fannie May connects their employees to nature by providing this on their campus. I admire a company that thinks this way.
As I left the park and wandered back to the trail I found two benches with these plaques, which connect the public to people who have gone before us. And this, perhaps, is the best connection of all….being out on the trail and being reminded that a long line of walkers, runners and bikers has gone before us. It gives us a sense of place in the world and the realization that while we’re only here for a short time, our presence can be felt long after we’re gone.
When I finally venture out to the W&OD Trail on my bike, I think I’ll do it for Steve and Joe.