Troubling a Star

“All things by immortal power
Near or far,
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.”

— Francis Thompson

Having never been a father, I have to take my Father’s Day thrills where I can get them, and this year they came from helping Nadia save a few aspiring Zebra Swallowtails from being mulched.

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail

While trimming a very ambitious grapevine back from engulfing a persimmon AND a paw-paw tree, I managed to damage a couple healthy branches.  So I trimmed them off and tossed them in the back of the pickup with the rest of the yard trimmings destined to be next year’s mulch.  Not long after, I noted a flurry of activity in the back of said truck and called Nadia over to witness the antics of two Zebras flitting purposefully among the debris.

“They’re laying eggs!” she announced, in obvious alarm, and she was correct.  A butterfly flickered over a paw-paw leaf, leaving behind perfect little spheres of future lepidopterans, spaced out prudently.  No-eggs-in-one-basket butterflies here.

Zebra Swallowtail Egg on Paw-paw Leaf

Zebra Swallowtail Egg on Paw-paw Leaf

We could not foresee a productive future for these mulch-bound eggs, so Nadia began shooing away the Zebras, who were so intent on sending their DNA down the line that they pretty much ignored her, even when she tried to grab them.  These insects were on a mission and the raw materials were at hand.  They had no clue where these leaves were bound—they were green and juicy and smelled right, and that was enough.  We finally covered up the plants with whatever was available, which ended up including a large sheet of cardboard, a hastily ripped open empty plastic bag that had contained compost, and one of our dog’s blankets.

That did the trick.  Off they went.

I suppose the eggs that were already laid on the mulch-bound leaves are doomed, but the rest—the ones that actually got placed on a living branch—should have a fighting chance.

Zebra Swallowtail Egg on Paw-paw Leaf

This one might make it!

So, on this Father’s Day I helped make a little contribution to posterity.  They will never need the keys to the car or drain the bank to go to college, but who knows what effect the Zebra Swallowtails of our yard will have on the future affairs of the world?  If the physicists and mystics are right, and all things are truly and intimately connected, we may have had a profound impact on what is to come.  I mean, if a flower can trouble a star, just imagine what a thundering herd of Zebra Swallowtails might accomplish?

P.S. And Happy Father’s Day to all you REAL Dads!  Like mine!


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