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.