Watching life cycles and metamorphosis in my own yard makes me happy, and so does the passion flower that wears a purple tutu. The maypop takes me back to my childhood. My brothers and I would bust open the passion vine fruits, eat the pulp, and spit out the seeds as we walked and explored the hollows surrounding our Guntersville, Alabama home on the lake.
In August and September, the sky is full of butterflies. Gulf fritillaries galore visit my garden. Nectaring on flowers, ovipositing eggs on curlicues of the passionvine, the beautiful orange butterflies beckon me to come outside into the sweltering heat to get a closer look. Orange caterpillars with black spikes are busy munching on the three-lobed leaves. From small early instars, the caterpillars will grow as they eat. When they grow, they split open their skin and walk right out, bigger and fatter, until time for pupation. Crawling away from the vine, they seek shelter on the windows and door frames of my sewing shack to transform into chrysalises. Days go by, and if a hungry bird doesn’t find them first, they will eclose when the time is right, plump their wings out and fly away to find a mate, and the life cycle begins again.