Thursday, April 9, 2009

Upside-Down Cleaner Funny Bones

Well, I was voting for "Hector", but I have to admit that it is the cutest kid name ever for:
A miraculous caterpillar who dropped out of the ONLY bunch of incredibly random bok choy (I think...?) I have ever seen in our local store, the AC. Living in rural Alaska means that previously mundane occurances turn into miracles, yes...If I had tried to get a caterpillar out here by mail or even carrying it when I flew out here, it would never have worked. But the universe dropped it in our laps -- awesome.

I was estatic seeing the choy in the store, thinking it might have been chard or leeks (in fact I'm still not completely positive what green it is) during this season when, although we have vegetables and fruit in frozen and in dehydrated form, we always crave, I mean salivatingly crave, fresh things that crunch when we chew them.

I have this bad habit of hoarding when I have something really good -- I'm not "being stingy of it"(as Hooper Bayers would say), but I'm saving it for something REALLY GOOD. I don't want to waste them on frivilous ideas or a bad recipe. I also don't want to cook them on a busy night, if I don't have enough time to savor them. SO the chard sat in my fridge for nearly a week before I remembered the sauteed greens with garlic, raisins, and pine nuts recipe that I REALLY wanted.

When I took the choy out of the produce bag, the caterpillar plopped out -- I thought for sure it was dead. I mean, who knows where that bok choy came from, and how many planes it was on before it got to Anchorage, then a plane to Bethel, then a plane to Hooper -- and then how long in the store, and nearly a week in my fridge? But Esther said, after I'd put it in the sink: "Mom, look, it's drinking!" And it was kind of sucking up water, or whatever caterpillars do. I had moment when I thought we should get rid of it, like why would we want a bug in the house? But then I stopped short -- What on Earth was I thinking? We had a great opportunity to watch a bug! A rarity!
And Esther has been wild about the thing. She gave it the cutest name ever, and she keeps checking on it, making statements about how it must think or feel, decorating its jar, etc. We have talked about how it has had a rough life, so we have to be prepared that it might not make it, but that maybe it will, and maybe it will spin a cocoon and turn into something entirely different. I am actually very trepidatious about what it will turn into -- will I introduce a whole new interloping bug species to Hooper Bay that will become invasive and ruin the ecosystem? Any ideas on what I should do if it survives its metamorphasis?

And searches on caterpillar websites come up fruitless -- I can't figure out what kind of caterpillar it is, so I can't figure out what it will turn into -- moth? beetle? butterfly? Anybody recognize it? It seems happy eating romaine lettuce as well.

But, in general, these kinds of things are too few and far between up here. Fitting that it should happen around Easter. And it was just plain sweet to hear Esther's good night to the bug when I put her to bed last night: "You are our friend, and we used teamwork to keep you, and good night." Awwww.

1 comment:

Cate said...

UPDATE: Ok, so the caterpillar, after eating ravenously the first few days, stopped eating and began to roam around the cage, trying to crawl up the walls, etc. I read online that they need either a stick or soil to make their chrysalis, so I put both in, hoping with fingers crossed for the stick, so we could watch him make his cocoon. No such luck; he burrowed into the dirt instantly. Lucky I had some old potting soil around! And he's never poked his head out since. I wonder what will emerge from that inky black dirt?

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