Last Sunday afternoon we were sitting around reading (Zosia), eating lunch (me and Ben), napping (the babies) and playing outside loudly (Lily and Hugo. I believe these two know only the loud variety of play) when Zosia exclaimed, "The butterfly! The butterfly!" It took a moment to register that she was talking about the mason jar on our homeschooling cabinet, which contained what we believed to be a (dead) chrysalis. We found a caterpillar in our front yard at the beginning of September, and placed it in a mason jar to observe for the afternoon. We went to the library, came back, and there was a chrysalis. We waited and waited and watched for weeks. And then months. Through my pregnancy with the twins, through Advent, Christmas, the birth of the twins, the remainder of winter, lent, Easter, the beginning of spring, and past Memorial day. Somewhere in there I think that a few of us may have lost hope. "Oh, that butterfly?" My mom asked. "I was sure he didn't make it." I mean, I don't think I said as much to the kids, but I was eyeing the chrysalis for a dissection project in the summer.
Which brings me back to last Sunday. "The butterfly! The butterfly!" The mason jar was filled with a fluttering yellow mass, large black and yellow wings, indeed an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, as we had guessed. Zosia's eyes were filled with joyful tears, because I don't believe we have ever witnessed such beauty arise from what appeared to be an utterly hopeless situation. Ben and I ran to gather all of the children, I ran to grab the camera, and suddenly we were pulling the top off the jar, trying to hurry, because it all just seemed so urgent, although to be perfectly honest, that guy could have been waiting in there for a day or two! I wouldn't know, I never checked.
The butterfly bounded out of the jar. I literally didn't get a single picture of his ascent, the way he effortlessly climbed the air up to the tall poplars over our house. We all watched in utter silence and wonder, this butterfly beating his wings for the first time, traveling through the air just as he was created to do. It was stunning, spectacular. I think all week whenever we stepped outside we looked up into the branches above our house to see if maybe we could catch a yellow flash.
The babies are doing their own transformations, moving in funny little rolls and arches across the floor, the grass, wherever they're placed. They will move ten, or even twelve feet at a time, but let me be clear, they are in no way crawling. Dorothy will lie on her back (just as she sleeps), push her legs, and arch her back into a sort of back bend. This helps her move three or four inches, and she will repeat it again and again, like some sort of upside down inch worm. Clara, on the other hand, does the quickest, most active roll I could imagine. It's as if she says, "It's time to roll!" and does it in a flash. She sometimes seems surprised by it herself. From tummy to back, back to tummy, repeat. And so she will roll, side to side, all around the house, as if this were a perfectly normal mode of transportation. One upside down inchworm, one roller.
It has been a wonderful, temperate, cool summer, and I have been baking bread, realizing that if there is bread in the house, no one seems to go hungry. Whenever the babies take a nap, or are contentedly playing, I ask myself two questions: "Have I fed the children?" and "Have I eaten something and had a drink?" Oh, and add a third: "Have I asked Hugo to use the potty?" If the answer to these questions is affirmative, the day will go smoothly. It seems that I cannot perform these tasks enough. The children are active and hungry and growing, I'm still exclusively nursing twins (and hungry and thirsty!), and Hugo is basically potty trained as long as we remind him.
Let's see, what else? The sweet potato is growing and growing, we have switched to summery deserts like ice cream, or fruit with cream and sugar. And Hugo has decided he is a super hero, and will usually be found with a cape and goggles. He has rounded up a few costumes as well. His cape flying in the breeze behind him, I'm sure he feels that he, too, could take flight at any moment.