Ode to the Woolly Bear

If I had a blog, today I would write in praise of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar.

October 5 - Woolly Bear Caterpillar

October 5 – Woolly Bear Caterpillar

For as long as I can remember, the appearance of the woolly bear has been a cause for great excitement in our family. Not only are these dashing caterpillars pleasing to the eye in their black and russet coats, but they are one of the first creatures to hint at the severity of the coming winter. As a child, I appraised every woolly bear I encountered, examining the number of rusty bands in his coat with scientific accuracy. The more rusty bands (most have 5 or 6), the milder the winter (and the deeper my disappointment), but to find a woolly bear with 4 or fewer bands meant a chance at my dream come true: A winter of deep snow and biting cold.

My dreams of a hard winter stemmed from the thrill of being free from school on “snow days.” Living in central Missouri, where snow is more the exception than the rule, any chance at a good winter storm was cause for excitement. I remember well, listening to the radio on a snowy morning, my brother and I holding our breath until Rolla Public Schools were added to the school closings. Once reprieved, the first thing I did was call my Granny Ruby. She’d pick up the phone and I’d burst forth with my pronouncement, “No school today!” Those mornings were as wonderful as Christmas and the whole world was wrapped up as our present.

The woolly bear I found in the yard this morning had between 5 and 6 rusty bands, so he predicts as fairly “normal” winter and that’s ok with me. Although I still love a good snowstorm as much as ever, I am lucky enough not to need the weather to free me from the bondage of life indoors. I work primarily from home and, once chores are done, I can go a-wandering any day I please. These days, the changing of the seasons are reunions, a time to reconnect with old friends like the woolly bear and the snowbird, a time to reminisce about days gone by and to add new chapters to the book of my life. Whether the winter ahead is stormy or mild, I will have my stories to share and my memories to keep me warm as a woolly bear on a perfect autumn morn.

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