Last night my wife found a monarch caterpillar in the "J" position, already with green showing beneath its skin, hanging from the vinyl siding near our back door. She cheated--I was hoping she'd found one in some dense vegetation when she called from the other side of the garden, not one clearly visable against taupe siding.
This morning I checked on our friend--not an exaggeration--and it was leaking green droplets and appeared to be bleeding and bruised near the top, perhaps punctured by something. Perhaps it just wasn't a healthy larva. It was still responsive at 8am, plump and curling up to my touch, but as of 11:30 is emaciated and no longer alive.
I suppose it is good to become attached to a caterpillar; if we didn't feel for the natural world at any level we'd have no hope to feel for--or to heal--each other, or the greater (and even smaller) lives and places we experience. Still, it surprises me that I am sad, that I'm going on and on about this. Monarchs lay hundreds of eggs and only a small percentage hatch. Only a percentage make it to full size larva. Only a percentage become butterflies. Only a percentage make it to Mexico.
But speaking in mathematical terms is simply an attempt to rationalize and numb my emotions, and this is, in a way, cheating myself. A monarch larva has died, for whatever reason, and I feel a deep loss.