The relief when the first butterfly was born was tremendous. Don’t get me wrong: there was joy and lots of it, but relief as well… that those previous few weeks I wasn’t growing maggots as a friend had suggested.
First things first, Bob my newly BeFriended Mouse should have been called Ben. It was indeed – as many readers suggested – probably a rat and not a mouse. A cute rat nonetheless, albeit a shy one. It was never to be seen again, the opposite of what I was hoping. But on the last day of November, not expecting a mouse nor a rat, I was in for a treat.
Getting Ready for Winter
My partner and I went for a stroll around the neighborhood with me in the wheelchair. As often, the way to a small pet store nearby was our journey that afternoon. It is the kind of store that has a cat, but even that was not the surprise as it was probably napping somewhere out of sight.
As a kid I loved making strings of peanut to be put out for the birds. I’ve had this idea for weeks so, when I saw there were bags with the peanuts in shells, we bought two bags which didn’t look that much. Back home I emptied one in the dish water basin, and it was almost halfway filled. So I managed to get myself quite a chore for these upcoming weeks.
‘Yuck,’ I said when I had something wet and soft on my finger, followed by yelling ‘hooray, a caterpillar.’ This was definitely not something I expected at the end of the year, but somehow this lovely little moth-to-be found its way to our home. Shortly afterwards (this being far easier than stringing together loads of peanuts) it was in a plastic container with a malva leaf. The next day I replaced this with a nasturtium leaf and added a piece of cabbage. My partner urged me to add a peanut and a shell, because who knows how long the caterpillar had been alive by eating that.
‘Are you comfortable now, Buddy?’ I asked it, while debating to perhaps give it yet a different kind of vegetable.
The whole of October we had butterflies in the garden, surely gradually less. But whenever I saw one that was white or yellow I yelled ‘that might have been one of mine’ to no one in particular. I’ll be doing the same thing after releasing Buddy, even though right now it still looks like a white, chubby little thing… and indeed can be easily mistaken for a maggot.
Not that I think butterflies are more worthy than flies – we are all creatures on this planet, right? However, I just can’t help thinking it will not be socially accepted to cheer when a fly (or a rat for that matter) whizzes by, with me happily exclaiming ‘that is one of mine.’
If you enjoyed this story, you might want to read The Guilty Dyer.
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This post is also available in: Dutch