A week ago, on August 18th, while sorting through some swiss chard leaves that I was about to wash in preparation for blanching and freezing, I was surprised by this small, elegant, jade-colored chrysalis attached to a leaf. At first I didn't know what it was, since this is its back and it is usually photographed from its gold-banded front. It is the chrysalis of a Monarch butterfly, and I'm very glad I didn't boil it. I put it back in the garden, propped up in the swiss chard.
Well, yesterday it happened again. I found another chrysalis on the swiss chard, just in time before it was boiled. It looked a little further along in its growth than the previous one, and I put it back in the garden. I was very surprised this morning, when I went to check the two chysalises, that the one I found yesterday had turned black overnight (the previous one just has dark spots and I think it will not mature). This is an indication that the butterfly will emerge soon.
A little later and I could see the Monarch's orange wing showing through as the chrysalis became more transparent. From online research, I thought I had at least a half hour before the butterfly would begin emerge from its small container, so I went in the house to do some chores for 20 minutes.
An hour later it had tentatively begun to open its wings as they dried and hardened. It moved higher on the leaves until it was close to their top. By 1:30 it was gone, flown off on its adventures. It is a delight to see these bright butterflies flitting here and there, high in the air, and down to sip on flowers. Their transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly is a magical one and lends their existence an air of mystery and metaphor. They are freedom; they are possibility.