In the rising warmth of the morning, while playing in the yard, my son Garion and I found a tiny green caterpillar on the patio table. I offered it my finger, which it grabbed trustingly, and it crawled around my hand several times as if trying to make sense of the strange landscape.
By now Garion was inside the curtain of the moment, trying to make sense, in his own way, of the odd little squirt of life in my hand. All the while I told him what I knew about this "baby" insect, not so unlike himself, who was on a singular quest for food and growth, and who was destined to blossom into something amazing.
Time was spent passing the tiny creature between hands of father and son (and once to and from our noses, which is funny for grown-up and toddler alike). I was glad for the opportunity to teach my son something new about nature, and more so for the lesson in compassion it afforded — for we were gentle with the caterpillar, and never addressed it as a lesser thing, or called it "gross" when it left a bit of poop on our hands.
When it was time to let the larva go, Garion and I carried it over to a nearby tree (the one I assumed it had come from) and carefully placed it upon the lichen-encrusted bark. There it crawled into a shadowed furrow and lay still. "It's napping," I said quietly. And Garion, already familiar with naps, and by extension the colorful dreams which shower down upon them, leaned in close to his new friend and whispered, "Good night, ca'erpiwah."