Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Underneath it all


It doesn’t look like much, perhaps even an oversight—the terrarium left sitting on the front porch stoop, while others’ homes are now tidied for Christmas. But, the frosted glass and pile of leaves within are there, just as I like them.
Something’s going on--underneath it all.

Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar


As summer days were waning and butterflies had moved on, I found a hairy caterpillar wearing his woollies for winter—the prickly, black bristles that sprout from bumpy knobs in rings winding around his body. Bands of red skin flashed through them, as he bent and wiggled along. Intrigued, I kept him—and placed him with three more in the terrarium that always waits, ready, for something to come creeping.

Swainson's Thrush watching

For several warm weeks, they ate. And I was happy to bring them their favorite—short stems of that unwelcome honeysuckle, with the tender, fresh leaves at the tip. Then the days turned sharply colder and from the tree above, leaves fell in piles to the ground. Slower and slower, each day, they moved. Until they one day, I found them curled head to tail, resting in slight depressions they’d found or made for themselves in the rich, dark dirt I’d given them.


I peek in on them now, from day to day, as wintry frost lines the windows of their room.
Underneath the leafy blanket, next year's beauty sleeps.



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28 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Do you know what they will be? A fun project here.

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

An unfolding tale.

Mara said...

How brilliant! Nature as it happens...

Sylvia K said...

How fun! And, yes, an unfolding tale indeed! I love it! Be sure and let us know the outcome!!

Enjoy!

Sylvia

Rinkly Rimes said...

Keep us posted!

The thrush photograph is beautiful.

Laure Ferlita said...

With your terrarium and winter guests, the term "Natural's Alchemist" comes to mind.

I hope your kindness will be rewarded in great measure - to see your boarders take wing.

Susan said...

You know - it never occurred to me (a mom, and a former teacher) to keep a terrarium once the kids were grown...but I think, seeing your post - what a great idea!I can be the kid now (at heart)!

bobbie said...

Underneath it all, magic is happening.

mrsnesbitt said...

Unimagineable! Yet utterly wonderful!

Anna said...

What a cosy place to spend a winter. You must have great fun watching and wondering :)

Tumblewords: said...

The ice etching on the glass is magical and your photos astounding. Amazing how much activity is going on all around us, all the time.

Manang Kim said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing. ^_^

My ABC Wednesday

Life with Kaishon said...

I really love this post. And I really love your pictures. What lovely images you have shot.

Sistertex said...

This is terrific! Great take on U.

Martha in PA said...

Very cool! Can't wait to see what emerges!

My ABC Wed

Beverley Baird said...

What a great U photo - so much life is underground or underneath - if we only had eyes to see!
Great photos.

Q said...

A perfect place to dream of spring!
It is bitterly cold outside and I was thinking about the bugs and how they stay so warm tucked in for the winter under all the leaves. Very fun post.
Sherry

photowannabe said...

Creative, interesting photos and an interesting story is about to unfold. Great U post.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Lisa--If my ID is correct, they're on their way to becoming Giant Leopard Moths. (3" wing spans!)
They will "hibernate" for the winter as caterpillars and wake in the spring to eat again. Then, after plumping up and pupating in the spring will emerge in summer as the moths.

Susan--the terrarium/aquarium is in almost constant use. My family knows not to ever put it away--Mom's probably got something going on!

Roger Owen Green said...

unearthed treasures

The Early Birder said...

Nature's mystery unearthed.

Joy said...

What a nice caterpillar hotel, snug for the winter.

Rose said...

How interesting that you should post this today, Nina. I was talking to a gardener I met the other day about my butterfly garden. She mentioned that she had picked up an aquarium at a garage sale and would put cocoons in it to watch the butterflies emerge. I realized that I still had an old aquarium in the basement that didn't sell at my garage sale--now it will have a new use! Too bad I didn't know this when it was warmer and my garden was full of caterpillars.

Kelly said...

...a beautiful story. I really liked this one--especially the last line.

Jay said...

I raised some moths from eggs once and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! Good luck to your little furry friends - I hope they survive the winter!

Your terrarium looks great! I must get myself a proper one.

elvira pajarola said...

.....I am WONDERING; and WAITING...! wonderful!
ciao
elvira

scienceguy288 said...

Rather surreal with that terrarium there.

Here, Christmas time is near and you can definitely feel it in the air.

Appalachian Lady said...

I have seen those caterpillars quite often around here. I never thought of using a terrarium. Please keep us posted on what happens. I hope they aren't too cold there.