18 Caterpillars and such
We had made the mail run to Altamont and returned home. As I took Tigger from the truck to the house we spotted a caterpillar climbing the brick at the door. It was one of the real hairy ones and I was not sure whether it was one that had irritating hairs that could harm him so I didn't let him get too close to it. He continued to watch it from inside the screen door.
"What is that?" he asked.
"That's a caterpillar."
"A cat-a-what?" he strained to watch it as it crawled away out of sight.
"It doesn't look at all like a cat... and I know cats."
"Not a cat-a-anything. It has nothing to do with cats except that cats are interested in them just like they are in anything that moves."
"What is a cat-a-whatever?"
"A caterpillar is a bug but it doesn't stay a bug. It changes into a butterfly. You know, we talked about them the other day."
"Oh yeah, I remember butterflies. They fly slow you know. I could catch them without even trying. How can that bug change into one of them?" he was getting warmed up by pouncing on everything in sight... flipping and diving and rolling around in the process.
"Well, they wrap themselves in this silky thing, sort of like a sleeping bag, and then change into a butterfly. Neat, huh?"
\"Why do they get in the sleeping bag to change?"
"I guess they want a little privacy while they change clothes... something like that. They might just be bashful."
"Can we watch this one change?"
"That would be a great idea if I had gotten it before it got away. One of my granddaughters did that once. Galen found one all wrapped in silk and put it in a jar. It finally came out as a butterfly. It takes a little time for that to happen though. If I find one in it's sleeping bag I will try that so you can see it happen."
"I still don't see why they are called cat-a-whatever. They still don't look at all like a cat, even after they change clothes."
"Never mind. They are pretty neat things. That one was very pretty, black and red and hairy. I bet it will be a pretty butterfly when it grows up... changes."
"Can I change like that?" he
asked. He curled up and rolled around as he tried to picture himself all
wrapped up in a silk sleeping bag.
I thought I had an idea where he was going with this but I went along anyway. "No, you can't. What would you want to change into if you could?"
"Oh... a bird... maybe."
"Well, I could fly and could get real close to them. You know, I could get right beside them without them knowing I was a cat." now he was leaping high in an attempt to fly.
"Then what would you do?"
"I could... I would.... you know... get really close to them."
"Um... well, if you really must know, I could catch them real easy."
"But why would you do that?"
"Well, cats like to catch birds..." he said as he pounced on a toy as though it was a bird.
"I know that. But if you changed into a bird you wouldn't be a cat... you would be a bird."