The slow, slow metamorphosis has finally come to its conclusion. It has not ended well.
Last month, with its little butterfly-tent literally rotting away, I carefully clipped the chrysalis from its moorings, attached it to a twig and set it up in a potted plant on my front porch. I continued to check it frequently, but not daily. I didn't see it flinching any more.
This afternoon, as I was getting my front porch ready for any possible trick-or-treaters, I noticed that the chrysalis looked dry and discolored. At first I thought it was dead. But when I touched it, the shell was cracked, and a living creature was struggling desperately inside. I brought it into the kitchen, and with a pair of small pointy scissors, I carefully snipped down the length of the chrysalis shell.
In the first part of the video, the butterfly had gotten itself partway out, but was stuck. I had to put the camera down and snip more of the shell to release it completely. The second part of the video is after I did that.
I have no idea how long the butterfly had struggled inside its shell, or if the yearlong wait had simply weakened it. But it was clear it would never fly. The wings would not expand. I tried to give it a drink, but the proboscis didn't seem to work either. I admired the beauty of the tiny wings that would never carry this delicate creature. Then I released it from this life.