One of the three explorers, a young Indiana Jones
First, they found a worm. They wanted a jar to keep the worm, and wanted to know what he’d eat. Fortunately, I had an empty large chunky roasted peanut jar. The trio of explorers (made up of a four-year-old future Indiana Jones, a six-year-old nurturing “little mama,” and a seven-year-old “curious George” little girl) was ecstatic. A bucket of ice cream would not have thrilled them nearly as much.
They piled leaves and grass around the worm and began to argue over to whom he belonged, each one aggressively claiming him. And, yes, they argued about whether “he” was male or female until one sang out “she” was birthing babies. My instruction on worms’ reproduction was totally ignored.
Retreating to the kitchen to prepare supper, I heard an eruption of squeals. They had found a centipede, the best worm ever. This one was vigorously claimed by Curious George who declared she had found him first. I tried to interject a lesson in etymology concerning the meaning of the word “centipede,” but this lesson, too, was rebuffed. Who cared how many legs he had? He was “darling” anyway. For the first time in my seventy-four years I was watching a girl “cuddle” a centipede in her hand crooning sweet nothings in his “ear.”
After supper, with dusk moving in, I spied fireflies flashing signals. After I demonstrated my skill in catching fireflies, the children were “turned on.” They quickly learned how to let fireflies light on their hands, then transfer them to the jar without hurting them. The sight of the children dashing here and there amongst ground cover, lilies, and bushes squealing with delight as they caught the lights made me very happy. And perhaps these lively lights would make them forget to cuddle worms.
It didn’t happen quite like that. The trio decided they should let all the fireflies fly, a commendable decision. So they set the jar open on the patio and watched from the porch to see them fly away. They checked on their worms then to be sure they were all there. I heard Little Mama say with tender passion, “I always wanted my very own pet.” A reminder that she has three dogs, two cats, and a horse at home meant nothing to her. They weren’t hers, she said. This worm was hers.
I was really bad. I refused to have the worms as house pets. In fact, I insisted on warm sudsy baths all around for all team members.
Next morning, first thing, all three went to check on their worms. All worms were accounted for and still alive. Except for the imaginary babies one worm had made.
After breakfast I gave the trio a list of things to find: something rough, something smooth, something hard, a straight stick, etc. Young Indiana Jones found the stick, a six foot bamboo cane ( I better specify the length next time!), which he proceeded to twirl hazardously, causing considerable havoc. The girls fought over what was smooth and what was hard. In the process of chasing down scavenger hunt items, one explorer found a fat white grub and took him into the jar fold.
Even after diligent scrubbing of hands, aided by big sister Candi (who had returned from her own adventures as a vet assistant), it was doubtful the crew was really clean enough for eating homemade chicken pot pie at lunch. But I have to say, all that hard scientific work, along with many rounds on the bikes, made the explorers quite hungry.
The discovery of a sizable box turtle in the afternoon broke the wormy concentration for a little while. I tried to launch into one of my favorite subjects–the uniqueness of the turtle’s (and all creatures’) design, but found myself talking to the cats after the children had scattered on a new mission. They were trying to find the rest of the turtle family. Curious George had taken the leadership and was convinced she would find another turtle in the reeds, under the nandina bushes, or maybe in the ivy, somewhere real soon. The explorers lasted about ten minutes on that expedition before returning to their study of worms.
I wonder what these three will be applying themselves to in another ten or fifteen years. Probably not cuddling worms! Will they even remember all the fun they had with a plain old jar? I hope so!