By Sally Shuffield – Column for Durango Herald
One of my favorite games we play at the Nature Center is the metamorphosis relay.
The relay allows kids to act out the change that happens when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. It is simplistic after all the other ways we teach them about how this happens, but mostly, it gives kids the chance to roll on the ground, cheer for each other and run while flapping their wings and laughing. For instructors, it’s a time to let go of trying to control the group and get concepts across. It’s just fun. It is a reminder that change can be fun.
Metamorphosis is the way some insects and amphibians change in their life. Rather than just growing bigger, they actually change form. Of course, butterflies are the most obvious of this group, but others include frogs, salamanders, grasshoppers and dragonflies. Insects and amphibians are the only animals that can metamorphose physically. About 12 percent of insects make a complete metamorphosis, and amphibians are the only animal with a backbone that can do it.
Humans, with our structural system intact, are not able to make such a physically striking transformation. We are stuck or graced with our human form throughout our life. This leaves us with the option of mental or situational metamorphosis. The good news is that we are not limited to one transformation. We can do it as many times as we desire.
Scientists say that animals other than the most sentient don’t necessarily reflect on or miss things. As I write my last column for Durango Nature Studies as executive director, I am already thinking of all that I will miss. I will miss the day-to-day tasks that run an organization. I will mostly miss the staff, the board, the Nature Center and my office in the Smiley Building. I will even miss the fundraising, the event organizing and the budgeting. In other words, I have truly loved my job. But, as I metamorphose into something new, I know the next thing in life will be just as rewarding.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me and Durango Nature Studies during my time with the organization. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity to serve the community. Durango Nature Studies will be excited to introduce the new executive director later this month. As for me, I will be metamorphosing into something new. In fact, look for my travel column in the Herald next month.
The butterfly may not have the ability to miss its caterpillar form. I don’t know if that’s a curse or a blessing. But as humans, we are wired to reminisce. The hope is to embrace change with the beauty and grace of the butterfly.
Sally Shuffield is executive director of Durango Nature Studies. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-9244.