Fall is here. Autumn. It’s my favorite time of year. The colors are stunning, the crispness of the air is so refreshing after the lazy summertime heat, and the food… oh! I could just go on forever about all the deliciousness of harvest time!

Today, the kids and I went rambling in the woods near our house. We call it the Forest, to make the idea of going inside more exciting and magical. (As if that were necessary. What kid doesn’t like wandering into the woods?) They each took a little paper sack with them, and as we ambled down the wide path, they filled their bags with colorful leaves and acorns. We even found a woolly bear caterpillar. DD1 was particularly excited at her first encounter with this traditional children’s favorite.

“He’s so cute!!” she exclaimed.

She tentatively poked at the caterpillar and was surprised to feel that he was kind of scratchy, rather than fluffy. I was pleased that she wasn’t all girly-girl squeamish about the whole thing.

DD2 said, “Ooooh!” as she touched the caterpillar’s body with her index finger. She giggled.

DD1 wanted to take him home with her, “to show my daddy”. I agreed. She scooped him up with surprising tenderness and cupped him gently in her hands. We headed home to show DH what we had found.

After Daddy and DD1 played with the caterpillar for a bit, we decided he should go back outside “for lunch”. At first, DD1 didn’t want to pick him back up, but then he crawled onto my sock. We giggled about that, which spurred her on to scoop him back onto her little palm. She reverently carried him most of the way up the steps, until he fell off, at which point I picked him out of the carpeting while she navigated the stairs.

We took our little friend outside and placed him near a pile of green leaves, so that he could enjoy some lunch. And then we went inside to do the same.

(We didn’t have leaves, of course. We had soup.)

After lunch, DD1 wanted to go back outside to check on her caterpillar, but there was no sign of him. DD1 was a little sad. She checked the driveway a few more times during the afternoon to see if he had returned, but no luck.

“Maybe he’s kooning, Mama,” she said. (Cocooning, of course. We just learned that word today.) “Maybe he’ll be a butterfly from last years.” (We’re still learning about relative time.)

“Maybe, sweetheart,” I told her. “But in any case, he had a nice lunch.” She seemed happy at that thought.

Me? I was basking in the soft afternoon light, savoring the early fall warmth, and enjoying the notion that this was just the first of many, many, many creatures that would visit DD’s home. Hopefully, anyway.


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