Thursday, February 12, 2009
April 1st, I was outside cleaning up yard debris after a storm. The night before, we had damaging winds which left branches, sticks and leaves everywhere. Using a leaf rake like a big claw, I picked up what seemed like the hundredth pile of leaves. All kinds of junk had blown into the yard like a cigarette package (neither of us smoke), those little annoying individual chewing gum wrappers, plastic bags, leaves from trees we don't even have here, and a beat up old soda can. My back was killing me. I was tired and grumpy and sick of doing it, but there was a lot more to go. As I studied yet another pile to pick up, I was trying to justify to myself that I could quit. But, instead, I bent down and took hold of one more load. And there it was in my hand - a dog turd. "Damned Dogs! Crap everywhere why don't you!" I bitched to no one in particular. As I stood up, the muscles in the small of my back screeched to me. Then, in my hand, the dog turd moved! I squinted at it. Definitely. It definitely moved. It was light weight for its size and sort of papery. I jiggled it. YES! It moved again and a scratchy, dry sound came out of it. Obviously, unless my excruciating back pain had mysteriously transported me to some other planet (a distinct possibility), this wasn't a dog turd at all! I suspected that inside the papery husk was an insect. However, in all of my years of gardening, during which I've picked up literally tons of material from lots of yards, I'd never seen a thing like this. I kept jiggling to make sure I wasn't imagining the life inside this thing. I sniffed it. No smell. Jiggle - Wiggle. If you put a golf ball inside a jar, laid it on its side and nudged it, that's what it felt like. When I turned the object over, whatever was in there kept righting itself. There was some struggling going on. I went inside and got a jar for it, punching holes in the lid. It would need air. Plus, I didn't want 'IT' to get loose in the house. I was beginning to imagine a possibly vengeful alien life form inside there, you know - the other planetary type. Sigourny Weaver would play the lead when 'IT' tore open its paper prison and came after me and my family and ate my dogs (poor dogs, the things I've blamed them for!). In spite of this frightening fantasy (possibly spawned by the back pain), I couldn't just heave the thing into the compost. After all, it was ALIVE! And life is not a relative value; alive is alive. Thank God for the internet, is all I've got to say! On a web site called whatsthatbug.com, I found out that my little blessing wasn't Rosemary's Baby, but a Luna moth pupa. My April Fools Miracle was a pupa, not a dog poopa, after all! The entomologists on the web site gave instructions for its care and in two months, I was the proud parent of a splendid Luna moth.