Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wisdom in a Rolling Stone

While excavating the top of our computer desk today, I came across a petrified cocoon. I suppose that if I could carbon-date the thing, I could tell you exactly how long it's been there. But I'm pretty sure it's from this past spring.

The neighborhood was lousy with brown and yellow-striped caterpillars. They were everywhere, in every form-- alive and unmolested, or captured by the local children, or squashed to oblivion by a passing bicycle tire. My gaggle of boys decided to bring one home-- "Can we keep it, mom?" I figured it wouldn't poop on the carpet so hey, why not. The caterpillar got a leaf, an orange slice, and a little plastic bug box on a corner of the kitchen counter. Then we did what little boys do oh, so well: we waited.

Several days into our vigil I noticed that the caterpillar was spinning threads in its box. We gathered round and watched the caterpillar systematically spin from one part of the box to another. But the boys' attention span was gone in a flash so I tucked him back into his corner. The finished cocoon was a lovely pale green. Again, we waited, for about two weeks. It was torture for the little ones. I kept reminding them of the beautiful butterfly that we would soon meet.

Finally I saw movement in the box and once again gathered them around. We leaned in closely, hoping to catch the first glimpse of new color and life. And then, AHHHHH! Repulsion! We all recoiled. Instead of a bright, slender butterfly there was a fat, hairy, monochromatic moth. The number of antennae was WAY past the legal limit. Worst of all, from my vantage point through the magnifying lens on top, the monstrosity looked like something one would find battling Godzilla in the streets of Tokyo. I nearly dropped the box.

I muttered some lame "nature is beautiful" excuse for the poor thing as my boys made their escape back to legos and playdough. Then I took our new houseguest and ushered him out to the front yard. He found a place amongst the sprouting mums by the window.

As I walked back inside, these lyrics ran through my head, "You can't always get what you want..."

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