Claude Moore Park: October

This is the eighth installment in a year-long series of monthly scenes from Claude Moore Park in Sterling, VA. To read from the beginning, please visit the past months:


Park entrance with fall leaf colors

South Entrance to Claude Moore Park, October







I love spring and summer, but for sheer visual impact you can’t beat October.

Frogshackle Pond

The Orange Landscape

Milkweed in the Field

Fall Pond

Red and Yellow Berries


Meadow Beside the Pond

Little White Flowers

Bright Bright Leaves

Path Around the Pond

How lucky am I to have this place practically in my backyard?

This month I witnessed a tiny miracle while on a Claude Moore Community Center Preschool field trip to the Visitor’s Center.

Over the summer I documented how I found the first monarch caterpillars of the year, and how park staff gave them a place to reach maturity safe from predators. But despite my frequent visits, I had yet to get a decent photograph of a monarch butterfly, mostly due to bad timing on my part.

A butterfly in the hand

Monarch chrysalis beginning to split

But this month I witnessed the entire transformation from chrysalis to butterfly. Normally the chrysalis stays firmly affixed to whatever it is hanging from, but this one fell just as it was beginning to open. Can you see the orange wing with black stripes folded inside the clear outer casing?


The monarch climbed out of the chrysalis,


and then hung in the natural position to begin unfolding the wings.


It pumped fluid into its wings to unfold them,

Filling the Wings

unfurling its left one first, and then its right.

One Wing Done

At this point the butterfly’s left wing was completely straight, while the right one (in the back) was still unfolding.

Preschoolers and teachers were able to watch the whole process.

A fun birthday

Grandmother, grandson, and monarch.

The lucky person holding the monarch is my mother, Park Manager Merry Breed. In all her years of working at the park and volunteering with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Bringing Back the Monarch Campaign, she’d never seen a monarch emerge from its chrysalis. This day happened to be her birthday, and I think this was the perfect gift.

Letting One Go

Behind the Visitor's Center

Bon voyage, monarchs. I hope you have a smooth trip to Mexico!


About rbpepper

Rebecca is an artist, writer, and photographer with degrees in Theater and Social Work, and is currently a Stay at Home Mom to her three kids. Some part of her house is always a mess, she lets her kids paint on the table and design their own costumes, and she makes excellent allergen-free cookies. She lives with her equally creative husband and children in a part of Virginia known for being "pretty close to Dulles Airport", and dreams of moving to an old farmhouse in New England.
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2 Responses to Claude Moore Park: October

  1. Pingback: A Year in Claude Moore Park: November | Rebecca Breed Pepper

  2. Pingback: Good Morning | Rebecca Breed Pepper

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