The bluebird boy uses his beak to carry bugs and caterpillars for his nestlings and haul away nestling excrement deposited in fecal sacs. He keeps a tidy nest. The female does all this and has a uterus to hold her eggs, laying one a day.
The Monarch butterfly carries fertilized eggs in her vagina to deposit under a milkweed leaf with her ovipositor. Once the eggs are laid, her job is over and the eggs are on their own.
The honeybee packs pollen on its hind legs to carry to the hive. Its pollen sac can be white, red, or yellow, depending on the nectar source.
The female African cichlids in my son’s fish tank carry fertilized eggs in their mouths so other fish won’t devour the next generation.
Mama swans carry their cygnets on their backs—the safest place in an unsafe world.
The white-haired woman carries a black shoulder bag resting against her hip. Years ago, her babies straddled that hip designed to carry a child. In those days, her arms carried baskets of vegetables for a family. Now she carries a few things for herself.
Her small bag has pockets with zippers—a place for a cell phone, another for a camera, another for tissues and dog cookies. In the past, she tucked glasses and hearing aid batteries in those pockets when she gave a talk or went to a party. The world of social gathering feels far away, so she uses the bag for what she needs now.
She slides a weather proof case for her hearing aid and cochlear implant in one zippered pocket. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can’t get wet, so the case protects them if it rains and holds extra batteries, too. Sometimes she carries an extra dose of medicine for vertigo in a plastic pill box. Truth is, she should always carry that pillbox, but she resists.
From July to September, she carries a garden clipper in the largest pocket of the bag. As she walks with her dogs, she pauses to search the underside of milkweed leaves and snip a leaf when she finds an egg. Some days, she clips whole plants to feed the caterpillar brood in her Monarch nursery.
Caring for flowers, birds, and butterflies is her pleasure. She tries not to fret about a stay-at-home winter. She tries not to worry about the future and if or when this pandemic might end.
Her dogs carry tennis balls, but not the future. Like plants and butterflies, they inhale the Now. In October, the milkweed will release its seeds to the wind without wondering where it will land. Monarchs will fly south toward Mexico without worry about arriving on time.
Unlike the woman, they aren’t afraid of getting lost or being left behind.
What do you carry these days, physically or psychologically? How are you managing the load? I have it easy because I can stay home, so the hardest thing is not seeing my son who lives in North Carolina. No matter how I try to keep my daily life calm, Nature offers drama. A few days ago, the bluebird mama disappeared just as her eggs were ready to hatch. Her mate kept guarding the box for a few days, checking inside periodically and checking inside another box, too. She must have been grabbed by a hawk, but who knows? She’s gone and the eggs won’t hatch.
For a post about the joy of raising Monarchs, see Monarch Medicine: A Meditation on Transformation. For a post about how exciting it was to watch my son take care of his hives a few years ago, see Honeybees and Humans: Our Sweet Interdependence.