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utterly speechless, songless, whistleless…

September 16, 2018

As a college student I decided one day that it was time for me to memorize a poem. So quite quickly I learned the Ogden Nash poem, The Duck:

 

Behold the duck - It does not cluck -  A cluck it lacks - It quacks.

 

Quite remarkably I have quoted that poem almost every week since that fateful day many moons ago, and at my age that is beginning to be a lot of weeks.

Learning that poem went so well, I thought it time to memorize another Nash poem - this time The caterpillar. Little did I know back then that The caterpillar would play such a significant role with the Collins House.

 

If you have visited the historic house recently, you noticed that walking from the parking lot to the back door is like walking through a butterfly garden. A few weeks ago Lois Metzger and Trisha Haislar were working at the house.

 

Lois had just finished with a tour; Trisha was gardening. As Lois was beginning to walk to her car, she and Trisha noticed a caterpillar on the drying shed - a monarch caterpillar. They commented on it, Lois took a photo to document the event, and she drove away.

  

Trisha went back to pulling weeds and cleaning out the garden. As she looked back toward the drying shed Trisha noticed that the cocoon was beginning to form. She grabbed her I-phone and started filming. Within a two-minute span, the cocoon was completely formed and there it stayed for almost two weeks.

 

During that two-week time Lois would stop by the house each day to take a photo in order to document the status, waiting and watching, hoping she would see the birth. One day she took Cindy Welch to the house, and they were certain they could see the wings beginning to form within the chrysalis. To her disappointment, Lois missed the birth; but she was able to capture the empty cocoon, which is still visible at the drying shed.

I’ve been told that once a butterfly leaves the cradle, it does not wander far from home. I’d like to believe that the photo I took of the sunflower with the beautiful monarch is the same butterfly born at the historic D.D. Collins House on a hot August day in the summer of 2018.

The caterpillar

 

I find among the poems of Schiller
No mention of the caterpillar,
Nor can I find one anywhere
In Petrarch or in Baudelaire,
So here I sit in extra session
To give my personal impression.
The caterpillar, as it's called,
Is often hairy, seldom bald;
It looks as if it never shaves;
When as it walks, it walks in waves;
And from the cradle to the chrysalis
It's utterly speechless, songless, whistleless.

 

 ~Ogden Nash, published 1953 

from The Private Dining Room 

 

photos by Lois Metzger and Carolyn Welch

 

 

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