Thursday, November 6, 2008

Now and Zen

We seem to have lost our Zen, here at the old homestead.

On our last trip to the pumpkin patch, the girls were probably most excited not by the pumpkins but by the woolly-bear caterpillar whom they snatched from its home and returned to ours in a plastic zipper bag.

Now, woolly-bear caterpillars can be useful as weather predictors - you see how much the colors vary from normal, and you can tell how bad the winter will be - but the trick to that is knowing what the standard woolly-bear caterpillar looks like in the first place. This one looked, well, brown and black. And fuzzy. Not that it matters much - we live in Wisconsin, after all, and all you have to do is predict a cold and snowy winter and you'll pretty much be right no matter what. So the usefulness of this particular caterpillar was, in fact, somewhat limited.

After trying several different versions of a home for our newest resident, including one structural masterpiece involving sticks, wax paper and a fair amount of cling wrap, the girls settled on a more straightforward plastic box, which they filled with a miniscule percentage of the Creeping Charlie patch that we call a lawn. Apparently, woolly-bear caterpillars will eat just about anything. The girls even put some Creeping Charlie in the fridge for later, should it get hungry for a snack.

Then it was time to name the caterpillar, a tricky thing since nobody could tell if it was a boy caterpillar or a girl caterpillar and nobody really wanted to learn how to do that. Eventually, by communing with the spirit of our long-passed-away cat Pepper, Tabitha came to the conclusion that it was a boy, which meant that it would (after several short-lived alternatives) be called Zen.

Zen had a harrowing life here, it must be said, despite having a small green friend who came in with the Creeping Charlie sharing his box. When he wasn't being paraded around by small children, he was being investigated by cats. But he seemed to be doing okay.

Yesterday he vanished.

Now, this means one of several things. He may have just escaped and is hiding around here somewhere, waiting for revenge. We're not sure what that might be, but it will probably be something slow. He might also have finally met the cats, which probably would not have gone well for poor old Zen. Perhaps he beamed up to some other dimension to report to his caterpillar overlords on the status of their world takeover plans. This one we doubt, but you never know these days, so we can't entirely rule it out.

In any event, we are Zenless now. Ah, Zen, we hardly knew ye.

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