I have discovered plenty of eggs in the garden; spider eggs, aphid eggs, whitefly eggs, and best of all, chicken eggs (of course!). All of those are pretty easy to identify, if you hang around the garden any length of time – but have you ever seen a butterfly lay an egg? Up until the other day, I had not! In the EDU-Garden® the other day, I noticed a black swallowtail butterfly dart back and forth -looking for the proper spot, I suppose- and then, to my amazement, I watched her curl her abdomen over a leaf as her ovipositor quickly deposited a single round opaque yellow egg! That was a new experience for me, and renewed the mystery of life right before my very eyes! I was in awe of that special moment, but had my wits about me enough to tell every student within earshot, “This is amazing! Come see!”
We stood transfixed as she flitted from one leaf to then another, four times on different leaves, she did the same thing. “Class change,” someone yelled. No one moved and that was fine with me.
I believe that mindfulness most often comes in snippets. We are all are so accustomed to having the scene before our eyes constantly changing, that we cannot absorb much of what flashes before our eyes. Television ads, video games, and computer screens are constantly demanding our eyes to watch this or that, because we must hurry, it is going to move on to the next meaningless thing.
So at least on this one day, for these few seconds in time, we “don't move, just watch; be mindful of how precious life is to this butterfly” – a moment too quickly gone for all eternity.
I believe that this is one of the ways we can teach our kids awareness of the natural world as they start to forget themselves and are mindful and appreciative. I don't think that they will ever forget this chance encounter. As for me, it is a teaching moment in its purest form and these are the moments we teachers live for.
As we watched her fly away, I sighed. “Everyone go to class now,” I said. “Anyone need a late pass?”