Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pat's Worm

Pat's Worm

We, the Collins family, lived in a three bedroom, one bathroom house just across the street from the Heavener gymnasium which was directly east of our home. The Collins children, Bob, Sharon, and Pat had a good sized yard to play in and in those days if the weather was good they spent most of their free time outside. Bob loved games, sports, and physical activity; he had many friends that shared his interest and he was usually around nearby engaged in whatever activity captured his interest at the moment. Sharon, like all girls, or at least the ones I knew about, was usually engaged with little girl activities; dolls, jacks, hopscotch, and such. Pat, the youngest child of the Collins clan loved bugs and small unusual animals, like the horned toad his mother made him take outside. Pat was forever capturing bees, beetles, wasps and other creepy crawlers which he kept in jars with holes punched in the cap so the poor captive could breathe. When his interest waned in whatever he had captured he turned them loose. He sometimes got stung by the ungrateful winged creature, but his interest was not permanently damaged.

We had shrubs growing along the front of the house and one day Pat found a big, green worm, or larva, eating the leaves of one of them. Pat got a half gallon jar our of the house, cut the branch the worm was eating the leaves from and placed the worm, branch, and leaves into the jar. He screwed on the lid and punched some holes in the lid to provide air. The worm and his jar was transferred into the house and placed on a shelf under the television set The worm continued eating the leaves, and Pat replenished the branches regularly as the worm worked up and down the branch. The worm kept getting larger, fatter, and more disgusting looking. By now all of the kids enjoyed watching Pat’s worm eat. It was a toss up whether the television, or the worm, got most of their attention.

One day Pat came outside to me and said, “Daddy come look at my worm, something is wrong with him.” The worm had transformed himself into a cocoon, with silky thread surrounding the worm and attaching itself to the stalk in the jar,

“Pat,” I said, “The worm is going through a natural process. Next spring the worm will come out of the cocoon and be a butterfly.” Pat looked at me skeptically. I tried to explain to him how the worm had changed into the cocoon, and now the cocoon was becoming a chrysalis, or a butterfly. Here I was, a football coach, trying to explain a process I didn’t understand myself.

The cocoon was inert and we all lost interest in watching. If nothing visible was going on we it was like watching water evaporate, all of us had more interesting things to look at. As time passed the worm, (cocoon), remained on the shelf under the television. We all forgot about the cocoon, except perhaps Pat. I will bet he looked at him at least once every day through the winter.

One glorious spring Saturday morning Pat came outside to me and said, “Daddy, the worm is coming out of his cocoon.” Sure enough the cocoon was moving, some thing was going to come out. “Let’s take the jar outside so if a moth, or butterfly, comes out of the cocoon it can fly away and spend the third stage of its life outside where nature intended it to live.”

“Okay,” said Pat. He went back into the house and brought the jar outside and sat it down on the sidewalk in front of the porch steps. He unscrewed the lid and took it off of the jar, we sat down on the steps to watch what was going to take place.

It was definitely an insect of some kind that slowly crawled up the stem of the shrub that in the fall had leaves that the worm ate. The insect stopped at the rim of the jar and wings began to unfold. In just a while the wings seemed to stiffen, not to be soft and without form as they were at their first appearance. We were watching the birth of a moth. Not one of us said a word; we were just awed at the spectacle that we were seeing unfold before our eyes. The wings began to beat gently and with a lurch the moth took flight. We four were not the only spectators at the grand event, the moth had not got four feet above the jar before a bird swooped in and ate Pat’s moth.


At November 22, 2008 at 2:03 PM , Blogger John Inman said...

Your first blog was one that shows nature's way of doing things. I bet Pat was really surprised. Thanks for giving it a shot. I guess you figured a way to make it work. Hopefully, you can find it again and start the creative juices flowing.

At November 22, 2008 at 2:04 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Hey, Coach Collins. Thanks for the blog. Life may be pretty at times but it can turn tough in the blink of an eye, as the moth found out.

At November 22, 2008 at 8:40 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

Thanks for joining us, Coach. We've missed hearing from you these many months. It's hard to believe so much time has passed since Heavener Online went away. Looking forward to your next installment.


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