I remember back in primary school finding them in their caterpillar state. I used to call them Stripeys . I am still not sure what they are actually called. Some of the girls and some of the boys would scream when I showed them a caterpillar lazily crawling up each arm.
“I am telling Mrs. H !! ” Janice would yell at me; before running up the steps and into the school ; pig tails flying into the air as she ran. I used to think that one day Janice would knock herself out as the pig tails swatted at her; two brightly colored pink orbs of plastic tied around each pigtail.
Down the front steps of the school came Mrs . H marching as though she was a drill sergeant. She was wearing some large floral print dress and shiny black shoes with big wedged heels . She walked to where I was ; raised her index finger at me and signalled for me to move toward her.
“Take this God forsaken things off of you !! ” she demanded
I stood silent; frozen where I stood ; head hung low.
“Joey , Are you listening ? Do you have anything between those big ears of yours ?!”
I cannot recall if I cried or not but most likely I did. Mrs. H flicked ; and not gingerly at the caterpillars on my arms. The flew across the school yard. I turned to run and see if they were okay but she grabbed me by the collar and pretty well dragged me up the steps. This time I did cry.
Some of the kids looked on in terror and some laughed . Mrs. H led me to the office and I sat there for what seemed like hours . When she came back I went back to class; still wondering how the caterpillars were doing . Eventually it was 3:45 and the bell rang .
I looked around the yard for the caterpillars . I found one climbing a blade of grass and picked it up .
The bus pulled up and I spied an old pop can and picked it up ; putting a few blades of grass in it. I dropped the caterpillar into the opening and slipped the can into my jacket pocket.
I stepped on the bus and sat at the back as I usually did. Seems back then ; the shy or awkward ones were relegated to the back of the bus. Now ; on city buses ; it seems as if everyone wants the back.
The bus drove on its route and the driver played the ever present Donna Fargo singing the “Happiest girl in the whole USA”
The bus pulled up to the end of our laneway and I got off; making sure the pop can was still in my pocket. It was. I went into the house and turned the can upside down gently shaking it until the caterpillar fell out.
He was curled up into a “C” shape.
He wasn’t moving .
I petted him with one finger; thinking he was asleep .
He still didn’t move .
He was dead .
A lone monarch butterfly flits about the flowers ; gently closing its wings as it rests on a milkweed plant.
Seeing it brings back memories.
Seeing lots of things bring back memories.
Memories are what helps me write