She was a simple caterpillar, living in the garden of a hotel restaurant.
Her name? Fluffy Yellow Star. Aptly given by my six-year-old who discovered her in the bushes and took her on an incredible journey.
We don’t really know if she was a girl, but when you have two daughters. Everything seems to take on a she persona if unknown.
We were staying overnight at resort up in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was dinner time, and we were seated at a table outdoors, perched on a large grassy hill overlooking the ocean and Eucalyptus trees. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, the girls went off to explore.
It was sometime after dessert, when Mia returned with a large fuzzy caterpillar. She insisted on taking it with us. The server gave her a clear to-go box which she filled with leaves and carefully placed her new friend.
I seriously tried to convince her to release her, really I did. However, the caterpillar ended up returning to our room for the night. Mia is big on science and she really wanted to keep and study her.
The next day, the caterpillar toured the Mystery Spot, ate lunch by the beach, and enjoyed some ocean breezes while the girls played in the sand and water.
She crawled around her box. She chewed on her leaves. She did caterpillar things, all to my daughter’s delight. I was less enthusiastic and worried she would die of shock with all this activity. However, Mia’s caterpillar was strong in spirit, she sat in her box on my Mia’s lap on the car ride home; enjoying the traffic jam of the late Sunday beach commute.
When we arrived home, I put my foot down and said she had to be let go. I lifted up my daughter and she placed her friend into the Mulberry tree in our front yard. The caterpillar inched her way up the branch and into the leaves. We watched her for a long time, discussing what she would metamorphose into. A moth? A butterfly?
Metamorphosis was a word Mia had learned recently because of her silk worm project at school. She LOVED this word.
The next morning, the girls were up early and out in front looking for her. Much to my surprise, Caterpillar was still inching around the Mulberry tree. She had made it through the night.
The girls insisted she didn’t like the tree, so we moved her over to the pear tree. Where once again, she inched her way back up into the branches and leaves.
It was then she finally received her name. I was inside the house when I heard wild singing coming from the front yard.
I came out to see the girls dancing under the pear tree. Singing a song dedicated to protecting and loving their catepillar friend. The name, Fluffy Yellow Star rang out into the neighborhood.
We left for school and wished her the best. When we returned home, she was not visible in the tree anymore, hidden away up in the the gnarly branches and amongst the hundreds of leaves.
We talked about her over the next few weeks and even though we knew she was going to be a moth, Mia was sure she would turn into a black and yellow butterfly.
So when we drove back over the mountains for another weekend at the beach and were sitting in beach traffic, a black and yellow butterfly flew by. Mia pointed excitedly, “LOOK! IT’S FLUFFY YELLOW STAR!” Everyone was excited as the butterfly fluttered on the breeze near our car, making her way back to the mountains she loved.
Fluffy Yellow Star. A caterpillar on a really big adventure. Safe travels, my fluffy yellow friend.