A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing; particularly when you’re teaching basic science to the likes of a creative- thinking child such as I.
Thus it proved not only enlightening to learn about caterpillars and their mysterious transformation into butterflies, but an inspirational exercise (to moi) to further extrapolate about the resurrective potentials of other species.
Concurrent with the Caterpillar Unit was an expanded section on Butterflies and Moths – and it was here I became enthralled with the Luna Moth, which looked like an oversized green Tinkerbelle without the human features.
Despite Mom’s admonition that we did NOT live in an area with Luna Moths, I embarked on all kinds of programs to attract them; from conspiring to leave the outside yard light on then waiting up half the night with a jar and netting (cleverly devised from Mom’s ‘unused’ hosiery) to ripping off from the neighbors obtaining the best flowers in the neighborhood and setting them out as a lure for the ever-elusive, obviously-picky Luna.
Perhaps my greatest breakthrough came when I scientifically concluded that my ‘Luna Expedition’ was going about things all wrong. A revelation which neatly dovetailed with my discovery of an amazing snakeskin – nearly as delicious as coming upon the entire live owner itself.
At that point I put two and four together and decided the solution to my Luna-Less Life was clear: if I couldn’t attract one, I obviously needed to GROW ONE. And equally obviously: given what evolved from caterpillars, ergo the much-larger, more amazing Luna Moth could ONLY evolve from the much larger, more amazing snakeskin.
There was only one problem: Mom was decidedly squeamish about ALL my outdoor finds. Some of my best discoveries were banished to the backyard with the admonition to “NEVER bring ‘that thing’ in the house again” (…the vague descriptor ‘thing’ revealing that in actuality Mom had no clue WHAT it was that I had discovered…). And everyone knew it would take MONTHS for the snakeskin to change into a Luna Moth (…I knew this because our Caterpillar Unit teacher had been QUITE specific about the timeframe.)
So I needed a safe, months-long hiding place for the snakeskin (nee ‘Luna Cocoon’) and there seemed no better hidey hole than Mom’s Real Jewelry and Gold Coin stash, which resided in a cigar box in the back of her closet and was seldom inspected. (Note to Mothers: if you hide your goodies in the back of your closet in a cigar box … that is the FIRST place some young thief will investigate!)
I neatly coiled the Luna Cocoon into Mom’s jewelry box, re-hid it under the shoes as I had found it, and went on my merry way.
Now, I was adept at keeping secrets. Call it self-defense, but my mouth could close tighter than an alligator trap on an as-needed basis. Sis the Tattler was less adept at the finer art of secrecy, and as a result she was rarely privy to my innermost thoughts and plots. Especially those revolving around the coveted Luna Cocoon prize now residing in Mom’s Rare Jewelry Box.
There was only one problem with the entire process: my need to check and re-check the Luna Cocoon to mark its transformative progress – and Sis’s need to attach herself to me like a leach every time I was about to enjoy an adult-free moment. I had to come up with Cookie Jar Raiding Missions to unstick her but had several close calls during my weekly Luna Inspection process – close enough to lead Sis the Tattler to convey to the Parental Units that “something fishy” was going on in the floor of their closet.
Now, you’d think they would just ask. But, nooo.
Mother took it upon herself to conduct a covert investigation and of course what else of interest resided on the floor in the far corner of her closet other than her Rare Jewelry Box?
Was it MY fault that she decided to not ask me for clarification but snuck in herself and opened her box during the course of what obviously was an undercover sting?
Was it MY fault that Mom apparently harbored a deathly fear of snakes?
Was it MY fault that Mom was so surprised that she impulsively pitched the entire contents of the box out the bedroom window, screaming something about ‘a poisonous snake’ all the while, before I could even get a word in edgewise? (Note to Mom: a snakeskin is all that is left of a snake, poisonous or Otherwise. It has ceased to be. And has left behind a leetle momento to mark its passage…and also, to possibly serve as a resurrection husk for a Luna Moth.)
And, was it MY fault that APPARENTLY Luna Moths do NOT emerge from snakeskins?? Well, I guess we’ll never know. Mom pitched the snakeskin with her jewelry; so there went my Luna Moth Experiment. (AND, I might add, my close brush with The Nobel Prize.)
We’ll also never know quite where some of her rare pieces got to. (It’s amazing how BIG a backyard filled with bushes, cactus, grass and rocks can get when you’re panning for a bit ‘o gold.)
Mom even got Dad involved (as well as us kids) in combing the backyard with flashlights as the sun waned, and (much to Mom’s chagrin) the neighbors could be seen peeking out from behind window shades watching “that very odd family” (as I later overheard us kindly described) conduct a gold panning workshop out in the back forty.
For goodness’ snakes….is there nothing SACRED around here???