Spring is in the air. I can tell because butterflies are doing the wild thing around every corner. I don't know if the butterflies are aware of all the eyes watching them in their intimate moments; but the kids are sure aware of the butterflies. Student comments vary according to grade but pointing fingers and giggles accompany every sighting of butterfly love.
Butterfly and human reproduction are obvious to 5,6, 7, and 8 graders as they are currenlty taking sex ed in school. As boys and girls become more aware of their own bodies, they can't help but notice that butterflies have some of the same needs. Humans and insects are different as can be in some ways but we have more in common than I ever knew before I became a garden teacher.
Monarchs tend to fly around stuck together in wobbly and awkward flights. The Native King Kamehameha butterflies get attached and then remain completely still, frozen in reproduction, so you can finally see the beautiful irridescent under sides of their usually fluttering wings.
Two brothers watched in stone fascination for at least 10 minutes at one extra still, obviously attached pair. Maybe the boys were waiting to see how long the union lasted. Maybe they were just in awe of the butterfly's obvious skills. It takes a small miracle for human boys to stay that focused when they are outside and free to run. I came back after 30 minutes, and the butterfly pair was still attached, boys still watching, maybe even taking notes.
After the fluttery mating mission is complete, butterflies detach and fly away from each other. I try to detect a skip in their flight, but both seem stable. The butterflies go their separate directions, uncommitted and free to go back to the single life of suckling their choice in flower nectar.
We've watched mama butterflies lay an egg on our Makalapua, which is Catepillar Day Care Central. A single, freckle-sized egg on a leaf yeilds a baby catepillar with an endless supply of munchable food. Leaf breast-feeding; no stretch marks or morning feedings, mommy butterflies have fulfilled their responsibility after that egg-laying. I wonder if the mamas know about the throngs of little girls who coo over and care for their offspring. "Oh, little Pilli you are so sweet." The girls gather leaves for the baby catepillars, name them all, and even bury those that don't make it.
There is wisdom and beauty in butterfly reproduction. Even the youngest child knows something intimate is happening when a joined pair of monarchs twitter by. The most akward pre-pubescent youth can find solace in knowing that those sudden body changes are as natural as butterflies sailing the wind.
Krista Joan says:
My mission is to teach, train, and testify in resistance to the white supremacy of my ancestors. My personal choices are political, powerful, and practical. Let's trash waste.