Making Time for Caterpillars

downloadYesterday, my fellow fourth grade teacher, Sara, and I met at school and worked in our classrooms. We got a couple of things done together and then puttered about, putting away books (How will kids book shop?), trying to organize desks (Will we have our full class or half our class?) , figuring out new protocols (How will we have morning meetings? What kind of activities can we do? Can kids still “turn and talk”? How do we confer with kids?), and trying not to headspin about all the big unknowns. It was great to be together but stressful to be easing into “school mode” with so many questions swirling.

At one point Sara peered out the window.

“What are they doing?” she asked.

“Who?” I asked, walking over to look.

Outside, well into a marshy area, three of our custodians were walking about, parting the greenery, moving from plant to plant, intently looking at the leaves.

“It looks like they’re picking something,” she said.

“They’ve probably already cleaned everything inside and now they have to pick ticks to prep for us to learn outside,” I joked.

Nikki, our wing’s custodian, wandered over near the classroom window.

“Hey, what are you guys doing?” Sara called.

“Oh, we’re getting monarch caterpillars.”

“Have you found any yet?” I asked.

“Maybe six,” she said. “Missy’s taking them home for her grandchildren.”

“That’s so cool!” Sara and I enthused.

We chatted for a bit and then Nikki moved back to help out with the ongoing caterpillar search. Sara and I turned back to our work, determined to get a bit more done before calling it quits for the day.

On the way home later that afternoon, I stopped by the drive-through at Starbucks. After placing my order, I noticed movement in the small garden under the speaker, and looking closer, saw two little black things wiggling over the top of a leaf. And not just any leaf…A milkweed leaf!

No way!

I glanced behind me. No one was waiting. I put the car in park and hopped out. I stepped into the flower bed and bent over, peeking around the edge of the leaf.

Could it be?

Yes! Sure enough! There was a fat and sassy monarch caterpillar happily munching away. What were the odds?

I snapped a picture and jumped back in the car. As I waited, I forwarded the photo and quickly texted Sara:

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When I got home, there was another text from Sara:

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I smiled immediately, imagining Sara searching for the caterpillar at the drive-through. I thought back to seeing our custodians searching through the leaves. The stress of all the whirling-swirling questions and unknown answers faded slightly. Although I’m still feeling overwhelmed by the thought of returning to school in this uncertain environment, knowing I’m working with people who make time to search for caterpillars makes it just a bit easier.