Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Recently one of my instructors asked me if I wanted any black swallowtail butterflies still in their chrysalisieses — their chrysalieses — still in their shells. 

Lina (the instructor) and her daughters had found oodles of them in their garden. She had offered them to the science teacher at her daughter's school, thinking it would be a great science project — to watch them break free, dry their wings and then get set free by loving children. 

Nope. Not a chance.

The response from the teacher? "We don't allow living things in our classroom." 

Honest and truly. No joke. 

While that attitude is pathetic on a number of levels, this post isn't about something sad. This post is about Basil. 

I put Lina in touch with our refugee/immigrant afterschool program, and they were thrilled for the opportunity for the kids. When Lina brought in the fetal butterflies for the afterschool program, she brought a special one for me. Instead of attaching itself to a plant stem, this one had attached itself to a plant identification stake in her herb garden. The stake was labeled "Basil". Therefore, we named my fetal butterfly Basil. 

Basil hung out (literally) on his stake next to the window in my office. I waited.
And waited.
And waited.

I was beginning to be very afraid that there wasn't any Basil in there. 

Then one morning I got to work and the chrysalis was empty except for some brown liquid. 


Finally I saw him, hanging perfectly still on a power cord. As I was staring at him, he spread his wings as if to say, "Look at me. I am soooooo beautiful!" 

Flo and I caught him, took him outside, told him we loved him and set him free to flutter off into the shrubs. It was a wonderful, magical moment.