Topic: "Passion Flowers" (5)
Frodo has always noticed Passion Flowers. The wildflower, supposedly named for a resemblance to "The Cross" (which Frodo finds to be specious, at best) grows on a vine throughout much of the Appalachian region. Beside the purple and white flower itself, a green fruit, about the size of a lemon, appears and is said to be a taste treat for certain species of monkey (please note the paucity of wild monkey in the area, once again making Frodo question the veracity of the informants). Ever since Frodo removed most of the (blech) yellow pine trees from the Shire, he has allowed the vines of the Passion Flower to flow rampantly over the mulch and the low-lying bushes and tree limbs. He has done so, not only because of his fascination with the flowers but because of the balance in Nature that becomes so easily visible.
Frittalaria are a species of butterfly. Smaller than a Monarch or an Admiral, they are predominantly a bright orange in color, with little spots of black on the top of their wingspread. They flutter mightily, and are visible, in one sub-form or another, almost everywhere in Middle Earth, except for that part of Northern Mexico known as Texas (which is an alternative explanation for Frodo's kind feelings toward these visitors to his garden). Standing atop his front porch, Frodo can see the first of the bouncing butterflies in the Gardens of the Shire, and begins to peer into the undergrowth for the beginning of the miracle.
Passion Flowers are not the only host for Frittalaria, but they must be the favorite. Right now there begins an abundance of caterpillars, all orange and black with the ugliest looking spikes all over, crawling upon the vines, denuding the plant down to the stringiest of garden detritus. Once the deforestation is complete, these ugly caterpillars attach themselves nearby, thus bringing the transformation to a crescendo. For it was a generation of Frittalaria that spread the pollen of the Passion Flower while consuming the nectar, allowing a season of plants to flourish, and providing food for the caterpillars anext.
The story of the Frittalaria is something that Frodo pieced together from his own observations, and a follow-up self-study in a butterfly book purchased at a yard sale. The soon-to-be explosion of orange in his front yard will draw the attention of even casual passersby. In a way, Frodo supposes, he has done something to foster, rather than fool, Mother nature.
Not a bad way to start a new day.