Living in the desert is nuts.
Dave and I have a *bit* of an outsider’s perspective. I moved to Phoenix when I was 16 and had lived all over the country. Dave became a desert dweller in his early 30’s and he had also seen his share of the rest of the 49 states.
We have no hurricanes, no tornadoes… typhoons earthquakes or natural disasters (maybe wildfires if you count those), but the critters. We have some critters that even Lewis Caroll on his best opioids couldn’t conceive. And they’ll kill you in a second if you’re not paying attention. This is they’re territory and we’re just paying the rent.
You have your run-of-the mill rattlesnakes and scorpions and I’ve even seen tarantulas crossing the road that were SO big, you could see them in the road as you approach.
But this? Oh, what in the name of all that is weird?
I was driving down a surface street with TJ and Rachel in the car on the way to pick up the other two. The particular street connects East Scottsdale to North Scottsdale on a curve and it’s a lovely drive with desert trees in the median to the left and the hill for the canal on the right.
But today, I blinked as I scanned the road ahead of me. It looked to be covered in little yellow sausages. MOVING yellow sausages.
It took me a second to realize those were probably caterpill-
Oh man. There were a lot of squished ones. And I think the others knew how dire their situation was because I’ve never seen caterpillars try to motor so fast. There were going as fast as their hundreds of legs could carry them trying to avoid the pesky human cars barreling down in their byway.
I gripped the wheel and said a prayer for those little caterpillars because I knew I also would be a squisher of larvae.
Mr. Pillar, you could be ten times bigger and I’m still staying the course… I’m only swerving if I know you could do serious damage to my car. I had two precious cargo who couldn’t afford for me to get sentimental over pre-pubescent moths.
I looked down at the little caterpillar on my plate.
Such beautiful translucent skin showing off the vibrant colors underneath.
I was so hungry even though my nose was still stopped up and my throat hurt.
I threw a little peanut sauce on top, lifted it carefully to my lips and took a satisfying, crunchy bite.
Not even a nasty chest cold would keep me from appreciating this beautiful spring roll, already cheering me up after a very, VERY long day.
It was a long day for Dave too. He was working another holiday weekend and it was unusually busy for the hospital as holiday weekend tend to be slower.
But I looked at him pitifully that night when he came in. I asked for a hug. I was battling the worst part of a nasty chest cold. It was day four of no voice. All the kids were home and I was irritated that holidays even existed.
They used to be things I looked forward too, but it seems that Dave is always working them and someone one or all of us manage to be sick.
This time, it was me. The rest of the kids had it and I finally succumbed. The silver lining is that I was the last one, so I wasn’t having to take care of sick kids… just well kids bouncing off the wall while I “mean-whispered” instructions to them to keep them on some sort of accountable schedule.
This isn’t a pity roll call… these are the facts of our lives. Multiple kids with doctor spouse and germs a-plenty. It’s not the ‘Rona, but I hadn’t been this sick in a long, long time.
So there I was, at the end of everything. Dave had come in after his long day and said “I’m going to make you spring rolls.” I didn’t ask for anything special, but I knew it was his way of ‘doing’ something for me in a helpless situation.
He went to the store and bought all the materials and even a quart of ice cream he smuggled in the freezer before the boys could see.
I limped my way through the bedtime routine (asked Sam to read the bedtime stories) and when I came down, there were spring rolls neatly stacked beside each other, full of mint, cilantro, shrimp, rice noodles and crunchy bean sprouts.
But no Dave.
I tiptoed upstairs and saw him soundly asleep on the bed.
He gave the last full measure.
I would have liked to enjoy them with him, but the silence was a pretty decent dining partner too. No one yelling for milk or “he’s annoying me!!!!”
I made myself an extra spicy peanut sauce to go with it. I’ve not been hungry because I tend to lose my appetite when I’m sick… but Dave made one of my favorite things that has extra-strong flavors. I could taste every bit.
As I munched my little “caterpillar,” I thought back to all of those hundreds of caterpillars crossing the street.
They were on a mission.
Where were they going? I don’t know, but the better question is “why?” They are hard-wired to “become.” A caterpillar’s one goal is to become that butterfly or moth and they live their entire larvae stage preparing to become.
Serving a sick spouse while tired, serving kids while sick… becoming. Sacrificing to start looking more like Jesus… more like the butterfly he knows we are inside.
Sacrificing when our well is dry is a sure-fire way to get us to turn to God’s well for the unlimited reserves that never run dry.
He is building us up for flights unknown. Adventures so beautiful we can barely conceive, either this side of heaven or the next.
I asked Dave later about those caterpillars and he too had a similar experience on the other side of town.
We looked up what’s going on. The Googles told us:
“A University of Arizona expert says these are the immature stage of the White-Lined Sphinx Moth, and they’re feasting on all the weeds growing after a wet monsoon in Arizona.”
We indeed had a wet summer. Much wetter than summer which turned out to be the hottest summer on record.
You know, after the “peoples” moved in (and started keeping track of the weather that the critters were quite used to thank-you-very-much).
An American humorist, writer and author. When boiling down the chicken soup of life, she finds those golden, fried nuggets of truth & writes them long after the kids go to bed.