Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 4




What can you learn from a wooly caterpillar? According to Holly Elissa Bruno, big, meaningful messages can be gleaned from those tiny, vulnerable beings.

In her latest Share Your Stories post, Holly Elissa reminds us that second chances return in every season—in nature, and in our own lives. Join in conversation with Holly Elissa and take a moment to consider the wooly caterpillar in your own life.

Waiting for wooly caterpillar’s prophecy

He’s prickly fuzzy, chunky, and stubbly. He’s coal black with a wide burnt-orange belly band. He knows where he is going. His velvety body undulates in a deliberate and clunky wave over fallen leaves. When I place him gently in the palm of my hand, he wads into a “Put me down! I’m busy!” ball.

Small, backbone-free, and vulnerable, my wooly caterpillar is wise. He predicts the length and severity of our northern winters. When his orange belly-band is wide, severe winters follow. If black prevails, winter will be as gentle and short as my fuzzy friend.

Wooly caterpillar and his siblings telegraph their forecast each year to anyone close enough to the earth to listen: short-long-short or long-short-long. As a child, I trusted my wooly friends. As an adult, I trust them still.

When orange dominated last fall, I moved quickly to plant 422 spring-blooming bulbs. When snow weighed down the earth more and more heavily and ice pressed down the snow, winter-weary folk complained. I thanked Wooly C.

In New England, we call long-lasting snow “poor man’s fertilizer.” My daffodils, tulips, and crocuses were well protected and nourished throughout their four-month hibernation.

On these mid-April days, I walk from garden to garden, scanning for the green breaking through coffee-brown soil. Finding more and more sprouted bulbs each day, I bow to the Wooly C. His tiny presence reminds me to trust that on the coldest, darkest days, flower bulbs quietly gather energy.

No matter how harsh and long and dreary the winter, bulbs burst into pink, yellow, and lavender blossoms every spring. No matter how painful and dispiriting the conflicts of life, second chances are guaranteed. This morning, bouquets burst before my eyes, where not long ago, dirty snow pressed heavily on the ground.

I am grateful for a childhood out-of-doors with wondrous friends like wooly caterpillars, fireflies, “peepers,” dragon flies, and Monarch butterflies. Each of these tiny vulnerable beings offers the message that beauty prevails and second chances return in every season of life.

Share your stories and tell me: Who is your wooly caterpillar? What in nature reminds you that hope wins out? Do the children in your life have the chance to discover the wooly caterpillars?

BY LEAVING A COMMENT, I hereby give my permission to Redleaf Press to use my story and quote me (all names will be changed) in Holly Elissa Bruno’s upcoming book on second chances, including in all revised editions of the book, in all formats (including print and electronic) now known or developed in the future, in all languages and territories, and in any other subsidiary editions of the book, and in promotional materials published by Redleaf Press, as it sees fit.

If you’re new to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Share Your Stories series, you can learn more about the project here and read previous posts here. We invite you to share as often and openly as you want—on this post, previous posts, and future posts. Your comments will provide Holly Elissa with unique insight as she writes her next book, and she looks forward to continuing the conversation after the book is published.

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6 Responses to Share Your Stories! Contribute to Holly Elissa Bruno’s Next Book: Post 4

  1. CJK says:

    At the old house by the sea…rose of shannon returned year after year. The cause of our joy brought us into this world and to that cape cod place to grow and know love. When she
    lost herself in ahlzeimers even as her youngest were still children….those roses of Shannon bloomed for her. The waves rose to meet her outstretched arms and her children …all ten came together and in faith taught and were taught….and 34 years later….still do.

    • Dear CJK,

      Thank you for sharing this Rose of Shannon story of hope through the sadness of pain.

      Your words help me recall those timeless moments at Cape Cod where life is precious in part because those summer moments are so fleeting.

      What a remarkable woman she was. Mother of 10 children. Loving mother. Caring mother. Lost to that cruel disease even before all her children were fully grown.

      She passed on her love to each of you. The roses still bloom every year for you and for her.

      She can no longer hug you directly. But you and she have a 2nd chance to be present to one another when each rose blooms.

      I am sorry for your loss and grateful you were willing to share.


      Holly Elissa

  2. kendalle3187 says:

    What in nature makes me feel like hope wins out?? When there is a big rain, the worms come out of their homes in the dirt and, for some reason, wind up on sidewalks, driveways, and roads etc, where people walk and vehicles ride and certainly cause many of my wormy friends to just go flat!!! I’ve always felt really good picking up the squiggly little guys or gals and putting them back in the soil again so they don’t get trampled. That’s hope for a longer life.
    What can I say? I like worms, which is why I wrote my Wormin’ Song.
    Liz k

    • Dear Liz,

      There’s grace to be found in earth worms as well as in the stars, in wooly caterpillars as well as the spring rain. Thank you for that reminder.

      Those worms which appear so vulnerable and insignificant make a difference to the soil. Flowers bloom more robustly thanks to the humble earth worm.

      Honestly, like you, I feel sad when I see these little guys squished on sidewalks and roads.

      Thank you for taking time to give them a 2nd chance.

      My belief is that each time we give another being a 2nd chance, we also get another chance. I can’t prove this; but, I know it to be true.

      I’m sure the children you sing your Wormin Song to get the message that hope is always in and around us.

      Be kind to you,

      Holly Elissa

  3. Bird nests – empty or full reminds me that life goes on. Each nest is maticulously designed with care and love for the most delicate. A nurturing soul cared enough to prepare a place for the future and each egg hatched left in the nest assures me that life keeps going and so should we.

    • Dear Catherine,

      Birds’ nests are marvels both architecturally and artistically.

      You see this and more. You see what endures. Thank you.

      Each nest, carefully crafted, becomes a nursery, a starter home, a dining room, and eventually a launching pad to the sky.

      Each spring we all get a 2nd chance. Who’s to say Spring can’t arrive every day?

      When, as you say, care and love are shared, even by the most delicate among us, “life keeps going on and so should we.”

      What a lovely reminder, Catherine, Thank you.

      Holly Elissa

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