The caterpillar makes an ideal pet, this year I had the short-lived joy of being a caterpillar’s friend.
At first I couldn’t work out what was diminishing my vase of mint cuttings. Gradually, Mr. Caterpillar betrayed his presence with fragrant faeces sprinkled on the bench like poppy seed confetti. It was a blissful honeymoon for us as I looted the garden for succulent mint and watched Mr. Caterpillar skeletise the vulnerable leaves. Some days Mr. Caterpillar would be crawling about like a hinge and I would make encouraging sound effects. I told him that when he grew up we could go for walks (I would be skipping, he would be flying with his new gossamer wings) and if the sky was too scary he could go on a lead like a biological kite so that we were safely attached by an umbilical cord.
The coming changes were a bit scary for him though, he’d quote Martin Wesley-Smith’s score, “I’m a caterpillar of society (not a social butterfly).” He was reluctant to think about wings that might detract from his verdant chiselled abs: “See me flex all my splen-did pecs! – What con-di-tion! What de-fi-ni-tion!” (Wesley-Smith, 1999, p. 9). We even considered his celebrity endorsement for some premium abdominal workout machines.
All too soon, it was over. I told a more thoughtful friend at work about My Ideal Pet, and he noted the cruelty involved, even if The Great Outside did possess a gang of wild young magpie hoodlums with a taste for the green worm. So, I released Mr. Caterpillar to The Great Outside in The Mint Garden Bed. A few days later a caterpillar was perched on the wall right next to our doorway – I can’t work out how he got there as it’s quite a distance. I think it was Mr. Caterpillar coming to say goodbye. I guess this is why I wasn’t allowed pets as a child, even ideal ones like caterpillars.
I miss you, Mr. Caterpillar. You were already a swan in my eyes.
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