Monday, July 30, 2012

To be in Need of Parsley

Although my 8-day series on herbs as characterized 
in the old Saxon and English herbals ended several days ago,
something happened today that made me go back to the Coats book
"Flowers and their Histories" to see what she had to say about parsley.

This fresh green herb, so casually tossed on plates as garnish
or chopped in salads and soups for flavor, 
turns out to have once had a dubious reputation.
Parsley was associated with death by the ancient Greeks,
who Coats says placed wreaths of parsley on the heads of victors in funeral games,
a sport that I really can't say I understand even after researching it.
Regardless, this practice led to an expression used
when someone fell ill with no hope of recovery. 
In that case, they were euphemistically said "to be in need of parsley."

Well today, my parsley is in need of parsley.
The pre-butterfly caterpillars have arrived en masse
and it looks like they plan to stay 
until the parsley resembles a crop descended upon by locusts.
Since returning from my trip west of the Shire,
I had looked at my parsley plant daily for some sign 
that the caterpillars were foraging for strength 
to transform themselves into delicate flying creatures.
Yet, every day my parsley was lush and green, 
so I began to think I could keep it for myself. 
And then this morning, I was tending my plants, 
and what was all over the green stalks that used to be my parsley?

These twins:

And these quadruplets:

Two more up high make ten:

Here's a close up view of one big boy wearing a bumble bee t-shirt:

I have to say this is the first time I ever saw so many on one plant.
I just hope once they turn into beautiful butterflies 
they will remember who planted the parsley they gorged themselves on
and flutter across my yard a few times to show me their new wings.

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