Caterpillars in the Cup

Even though we tend to fall into the unschooling crowd, I recently purchased a curriculum called "Exploring Nature with Children: A Complete Year-long Curriulum". It was only $15 and is being used by someone in our Wild + Free group. We had also just purchases "The Handbook of Nature Study" by Anna Botsford Comstock. Both are fantastic resources and I recommend the Handbook for all nature lovers.

However, that is not what this post is about....buts it what got me thinking.

In May, we are discovering caterpillars (and ants) to include watching caterpillars turn into butterflies thanks to Insect Lore. We ordered 10 caterpillars that we have watched change into chrysalids. 

We had one caterpillar that took a full day longer than the others to form its chrysalid. He kind of laid on the bottom of the cup for a while...and I was concerned he wasn't going to make it (not too concerned because its nature, that happens sometimes). 

It got me thinking though about the floppy fin of an orka in captivity, introduced to me by Katy Bowman in her book "Move Your DNA." A quick summary for you (but you really should read it)....orkas in the wild have straight fins, where biologists were noticing the orkas in captivity have floppy fins...or fins that flop over. They determined that the orkas swimming and migratory patterns helped the fin to develop, and stay, straight. In captivity, the orkas swam in unnatural patterns, circles in small tanks verses straight distances covering thousands of miles.

As I watched this caterpillar in the cup, I kept asking myself.... how does living in this small cup with this "food" (no clue what the food is) affect the caterpillars development into a butterfly? Does this make it a "weaker" butterfly? How does the adversity the caterpillar face in the wild build is resiliency for life as a butterfly?

I suddenly felt overwhelmed that, as a proclaimed nature lover, I bought caterpillars and let them sit in a cup eating who knows what. We were directed not to touch them because we might introduce bacteria into the cup that could harm the caterpillar. How many times have we picked up caterpillars in nature and they were just fine? How much junk have caterpillars crawled through in the wild and still made it through life? Has any study been done on these "caged"caterpillars and how it changes the butterfly? I mean, that sounds silly as I type it because who would care about such small creatures that have a relatively small life anyways...except...I do, I really do.

In humans, diseases from being sedentary...even domesticated if we were to go that far...are (and have been) on the rise. Metabolic syndrome - a grouping of other ailments like diabetes and heart disease - affects almost 50% of adults age 60 and over. For the under 60 crowd...still 35% that is over a third! That blow my freaking mind. We are a family of 6...according to these statistics, at least 2 of us should end up with metabolic syndrome and that is JUST metabolic syndrome.

Osteoarthritis....affects over 30 million Americans and it is EXPECTED in all people over 60.

Osteoporosis...53 million already have it or are at risk due to low bone mass (source)

I mean...these are all because we aren't moving more than we are "resting". Let me share some numbers that Katy Bowman blew me away with....

Lets say you work out 1 hour a day, 7 days a week. There are 10,080 minutes in a week...and you just exercised for 420. That is only 4% of your week. What are you doing for the other 96%?

I mean...we have built the world to be like the caterpillar's cup. 1) We can get almost anything delivered to our door by Amazon.... 2) We have massive stores that carry everything we need so we only have to go there....3) We are dependent on these stores so we have to go to them to get food.....4) We tend to live further away from these stores, so we drive there and back...

We drive to work, where we sit. We drive to our 4% exercise. We drive...sit to eat...sit to watch Netflix (Hulu, Amazon, TV etc).... We live in a cup.

I can walk to my fridge and grab an apple that I got from a store that I drove to. Very little movement. OR I can choose to find an orchard, walk around picking my apples (in the fall, yes but that is a whole other blog post), reaching, squatting...potentially climbing...all just to get my apples. I mean I had to move for my food.

My blackberries are in flower right now...I look forward to harvest time. These are 100% wild blackberries in wild bushes with thorns. When I go to harvest them, I will be moving a lot. The terrain isn't even, its definitely not mowed or carefully cultivated.

The Cleavers (Galium aparine) I wildcrafted for a lymphatic tincture...I had to go down a steep hill over rocks...in a breathtaking wood...and came back with enough for 1 small tincture (I leave plenty behind since I follow ethical foraging standards). 

I mean...the caterpillars in the cups literally sat on their food 24/7. When they shed their exoskeleton, it went onto their food. The process of watching them form chrysalids was AMAZING, something I had never seen in real life in my entire life. I am in awe of the intelligence of nature..at the same time disappointed in myself that these caterpillars only lived in a cup...they have never tasted a fresh green leaf. 

I am sure some of you are probably thinking "chill out a little bit Raven, the life expectancy of a butterfly is small and doesn't really matter" but its not just about the caterpillar. 

We are the caterpillars in the cup.