Monday, June 28, 2010

Little Blue Butterfly

Ahhh, the joy of traveling and taking photos of butterflies that we don't have in our part of Florida.  While driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway we saw quite a few of these beauties.  What a wonderful drive!  I could stop where I wanted, wander and take photos, return to the car, and drive further up the parkway.  Stephen napped while I wandered.  We were both happy with the day. 

After returning to the hotel, we downloaded images from the camera, edited this photo, and went to sleep in a quiet air-conditioned hotel room.

The next day we visited a temporary butterfly exhibit at WNCWild, drove a short while, and checked into a hotel. After uploading this photo, placing it on facebook to ask someone to identify it (I left my book at home), we headed out on foot to buy supper. Life is good ... other than one grumpy hotel clerk, it had been a great few days away from the farm.  Butterflies or something butterfly related was in every single day.

Then - we decided to buy supper across the four-lane road.  We went to the light and waited for the light to change.  The red hand was up - NO WALK.  The light changed but the hand stayed red.  The light changed back and still - NO WALK.  In four light changes, never did the light tell us that we could walk so we walked as soon as the light changed and we knew it was safe to walk.  The 'walk' light was the one that didn't change; it was broken.

A truck was waiting to turn when the light changed and as it drove past the passenger rolled down his window and yelled out, "You're supposed to wait till YOU have the signal to walk".  Stephen and I knew that we did the only thing we could do unless we went back and took the car.  We walked when the light had changed and didn't jay-walk. The only problem was that the 'walk' light was red.  The passenger in the truck was misjudging us because he only saw us for a minute - not the 15 or more minutes we were at that light waiting for the hand to turn green. 

Stephen commented to me that it ought to teach us a lesson about when we judge others.  We don't know their whole story.  Yes, there are times we know someone else made an inexcusable bad decision.  But more times than not, we can't know all the facts that lead up to decisions that others make.  Sometimes we can't know everything that leads to us making our own decisions, let alone other people's decisions.

It appeared that Stephen and I were being rude.  Instead, we were simply dealing with a broken electrical switch (or something along that line).  What the passenger didn't realize was that we were well aware that they were waiting to turn and we moved as fast as we could so we wouldn't slow them down more than a few seconds.   Appearances can be deceiving!

Now I wonder about the hotel clerk - what caused her to respond the way she did to us?  Did she just lose a loved one?  Did she and her boyfriend just break up?  Did her child become ill?  Did she fail a college test?  Whatever caused her to react as she did isn't my business.  My business is to pray for her.  We hope that others pray for us when we're short with them as we should be praying for her.

Stephen and I hope we remember this lesson and apply it in our lives - remember that we don't know the facts in situations. Things are happening of which we aren't aware that cause people to make the decisions they make.

John 7:24  (Jesus was talking.)
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Caterpillar Doing What?

Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars caught my eye yesterday and I had to take a few photos.  What neat caterpillars they are! 

When one is touched, it rears its head and thorax back, extends it's normally retracted osmeterium, and startles people and critters that hasn't seen such behaviour before.

Many of these caterpillars remind me of old science fiction horror movies.  The monsters were often simply enlarged and slightly modified insects.

The back prolegs of the same caterpillar as pictured above are not what we'd expect.  The colors are natural - we didn't change them for the photo. 

What is the value of these critters?

Most people shudder at the sight of the above caterpillar.  Value = paying for insecticides to kill them.

But the adult butterfly is valuable to nearly anyone.  The males have iridescent blue on their hindwings.  Value = people will pay to visit a butterfly exhibit to see them.

Value is truly in the eye of the beholder as far as we humans go.  Most humans value the adult butterfly but not the caterpillar. 

How blessed we are that God doesn't see us the same way.  We're all valuable in the eyes of God.  Our value is worth the blood of his son. 

I rarely quote John 3:16 simply because it's quoted so often and so many people know that verse. But in some situations, it's the most appropriate verse in the Bible.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son; Jesus Christ."

That's putting a pretty high value on us.  We thank God ...


Monday, June 21, 2010

Where is the Nectar?

This cute little skipper butterfly is trying to drink nectar and as we watch it, we're cracking up.  First, it's drinking through a hole an insect made in the side of the flower instead of through the open end of the flower.  Second, the flower is detached from the plant.  Nectar is no longer at the base of the flower.  Shortly after we snapped this photo, the flower fell off, butterfly still holding onto it.  As soon as the flower started falling, the butterfly flew to another flower.

It isn't an unusual sight.  This Cloudless Sulphur butterfly is attempting to drink nectar from a flower that has fallen onto a leaf.  It's like trying to drink through a straw lying on a table - not inserted into a glass.  Nothing is at the other end!

Here the same thing is happening once again.  This Gulf Fritillary butterfly is trying to drink nectar from this fallen canna lily bloom.  The flower is covered with dew, but that's all. 

These butterflies are driven by instinct.  They see the flower and they do not register whether the flower is attached to the plant or not.  They spend several minutes searching with their proboscises for nectar before they give up and fly to another flower. 

Thinking about these butterflies who are failing in their search for food at these flowers or ending up drinking just dewdrops instead of nectar, it makes me want to stop and do a self-check on my feeding.  Am I searching for food where none exists? Am I settling for less than full sustenance?

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well, he told her that he was the living water.   Without her knowing that the best that God could give to her was there in person, talking with her, Jesus told her, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."  

She responded with, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw."  

She didn't have it quite right but with our limited understanding, we can't have it quite right.  But Jesus takes care of what we can't.  She would still need to go to the well to draw water to drink for her physical body.  The wonderful gift was that her spiritual body would be filled and not thirst. 

I hope I never become satisfied with less than the best that God wants to give me. 

John 4:10-15
Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.   Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.   The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?   Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?   Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cocoon Colors Like Easter Eggs!

Silk moth cocoons (Bombyx mori) are cool. 

A friend sent me some eggs of silk moths a few weeks ago.  They hatched and I fed the caterpillars.  And fed them and fed them and fed them and fed them - my poor mulberry tree.

After weeks of me cutting leaves and cleaning rearing containers, they finally started making their cocoons.  They produce silk from spinnerets underneath their heads.  Using from 1 - 3 THOUSAND feet of silk, they make a small cocoon around themselves.  Inside its cocoon, the caterpillar changes into a pupa.  A few weeks later, the adult moth emerges.

The wonderful surprise was the range of colors of cocoons.  We didn't keep them on the table.  Some look too much like Cheese Puffs. 

As I enjoy the colors of cocoons, I thought about the colors of many things that I enjoy.  From flowers to M&Ms to kittens to cocoons, color is a wonderful gift from God. 

As I enjoy the colorful arrangement of cocoons, I am reminded of a song by D C Talk "Color Blind".
Part of the lyrics are:
"Pardon me, your epidermis is showing
I couldn`t help but note your shade of melanin
I tip my hat to the colorful arrangement
Cause I see the beauty in the tones of our skin
We gotta come together, and thank the maker of us all"

When I was in high school, race problems were so bad that we had 'riot days' when many students stayed home. These days were announced by other students in advance. Some students would start racial fights on those days. Mother and Daddy always allowed me to stay home.  How sad it is that too often people use color to hurt and judge others.

Our children went to a local elementary school for six years before attending middle school.  Although the school had a good percentage of black students, our children simply accepted the fact that people have different colors of skin.  They grew up without a TV and were blessed not to be exposed to racism. 

After the first week at the middle school, one of our children came home and asked, "Why do white people hate black people?"  Oh dear.  How do you answer that question?  I can't remember exactly how we answered it.  We did talk about differences of skin color and differences in people.  We discussed that differences aren't due to race but to the way children are brought up by their parents or community.  We discussed that children that 'hate' people of another color are taught that by others - it is not normal.  It did strike me that in the elementary school, our children didn't notice a racism issue.  Within a week of entering a new school, they were asking questions about what they were hearing from other students.  

Our world is a broken world. 

I wonder what colors of skin we'll have in heaven, covering our new bodies?  What color will I be?  Will my skin be the same color?  Lighter?  Darker?  Will we all be one color?  I can't imagine everyone being one color.  One day I'll know ...

As has been said, "God created one race - the human race".  I'm thankful for the 'colorful arrangement' of skin colors. 

Genesis 1:26-28
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dr. Harry Pavulaan Posted a Letter to the Mailing List!

I subscribe to many lepidoptera mailing lists.  Many of the emails that come through are immediately moved to 'tended to' or simply deleted.  I don't have time to read all of them.  But a few minutes ago a letter was posted to a mailing list from Dr. Harry Pavulaan.  I immediately read it. 

That started me thinking - there are some people I'll stop doing nearly anything to listen to them.  They have so much knowledge and insight that it's an honor to learn from them.  Many of them have written books about butterflies and/or moths.  People like Dr. Thomas Emmel, Dr. Jaret Daniels, Marc Minno, Dr. Frank Davis, Dr. Chip Taylor, and so many more that I haven't named will always cause me to stop and listen or read what they have to say. 

I had hoped to meet another lepidopterist today, Dr. Andrei Sourakov, a professor at the University of Florida.  He wasn't able to make it because his baby became sick last night.  I was thinking about how disappointed I was (and thinking about the baby too) then started thinking about people and who we will always take time to listen to.  Some people will stop to listen to talks about birds, others cats, others ... well, every one of us seem to have a passion for something.

I'm thankful for those who have knowledge about butterflies and moths and take the time to share that knowledge.  Most work and live busy lives so taking time to share with others like myself is often a sacrifice for them.

Mary also took time to listen to her friend and mentor, Jesus.  Luke 10:39 "Mary, who also sat at the Lord's feet, and heard his word."  She stopped what she was doing to listen to Jesus.  Martha, her sister, also loved to listen to Jesus but let herself become encumbered with serving and missed the opportunity.  (That part is another whole story.)

While I am thankful for those who take the time to share about butterflies and moths, it's much more important that I take time to listen to Jesus, our Father, and the Holy Spirit.  I need to keep my passion for listening to Jesus more alive than my passion to listen to anyone or anything else.