It sounded like it was raining all of the time in most of Massachusetts. Strange, because it wasn’t. It was them, I was told. I didn’t really understand you see, I was only eleven at the time and there is only so much you really grasp at the age. For that matter, want to grasp about what grown-ups tell you.
But I saw them everywhere. Climbing, crawling, moving. They seemed very busy.
My dad was putting this sticky tape around the base of most of our trees in an attempt to keep more of them from invading. But it was too late I think. They were already high up, munching away.
My school friend Kay, my sister, and I used to ride bikes a lot of the day during that fateful summer when they came.
Kids seem to naturally adopt the views of their parents and the larger world around them. Kay was no exception. She decided that she would help get rid of them one-at-a time, through beheadings. Unspokenly, she had decided for us all. Our method was to take the wheel of our bicycle and ride over their body and watching the various color in the “squish.”
I couldn’t do it. I averted my wheels last second, they seemed so tiny and defenseless, it seemed too cruel. My sister and Kay never noticed, they were too engrossed in their own fun.
Later that day my dad came home from work. He pulled into the driveway in his light blue Ford pick-up truck. He approached me and squatted down to ask, “what are you doing with those boxes and the Vaseline and Q-tips honey?”
I explained, “I’m trying to put them back together, I am trying to fix them, dad. See, I put a little jelly on ’em. Then I put them in my jewelry boxes. Then I come back to check the next day. If they are not moving, I bury them and give them a little funeral.”
“So looks like you’ve got yourself a gypsy moth caterpillar hospital here. ” my dad determined.
I think those caterpillars were the first memory I have of trying to “fix” something.
Maybe I tried to save them because I desperately wanted someone to save me. Maybe it’s because I’m inherently wired to be caring and compassionate. Maybe both. I’ll let my shrink figure that out.
Who knew though that one day caterpillars would someday metamorphose into men….