Everybody’s favorite weather predicting caterpillar, the wooly bear, makes its way around Heatherhope Farm these beautiful autumn days. We are often disappointed to find out that its purported miraculous weather prognostication is a bust. A wide brown patch doesn’t always mean a warm winter; and a narrow patch doesn’t always insure a bitter cold one.
But there is another bona fide miracle wrapped up in this little body. This larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth, known to the nerds as a Pyrrharchia Isabella, munches its way around this time of year to find a place to spend the winter. And when the cold comes it does more than hibernate. It freezes solid. Wikipedia (a modern miracle) told me this:
The banded woolly bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws.
As my son, Jeremiah, said when at about 6 years of age he joined me to watch a documentary about black bears, and heard how they can sleep for months without losing bone and muscle tissue because of the way they recycle their urine, “Wow, that’s the perfect animal!”
It turns out God made plenty of perfect animals. The Isabella is an animal suited to the North and the artic, and there are many species of insects, fish, and amphibians that are equipped with special cryoprotectant chemicals that keep their tissues from dying in the super cold.
Let’s quit wishing God would come out of retirement and perform some miracles. Let’s just wake up to see them all around us, every day!