Nature red etc etc

I swear I am never getting excited about any baby critters on my property ever again.

Current batting average: .000. 0 for 3. First the crows nailed the house finch nest. Then the 5+ monarch butterfly caterpillars that hatched on my common milkweed and that I posted about on the 4th didn’t make it. A week or so later, another monarch flitted by, and later I found one egg that hatched and even saw the little caterpillar. Checked next day and nothing.

This morning, yet another monarch came calling. I’m afraid to look.

The phrase that runs through my head when things like this happen is “Nature red in tooth and claw.” I decided to look up where it came from and learned it’s a line from Canto 56, a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. It’s part of a long series entitled In Memoriam, which he wrote as he sought to come to grips with a good friend’s death. It reads in part:

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law-
Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed-

I dug a little deeper and found that Tennyson was influenced by theories of evolution that preceded Darwin such as transmutation of species and pondered the conflicts between science and religion and the impersonal hand of Nature.  These stanzas from Canto 55 reflect this:

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;

That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,

So that’s what I’ve been seeing so far this summer. Careless treatments of a single life–an egg, a caterpillar. I guess this is kind of a downer post. Oh well. I have to tell myself that I still see house finches and monarchs, so some do make it.

I’ll probably check for monarch eggs tomorrow. But I won’t get my hopes up.

Well. Maybe a little.