Henry and I splashed up and down the creek with a dozen other wilderness explorers searching for things worthy of being found. He had a net and a bucket and competitive drive; I had flip flops, a smartphone, and creek walking experience.
More than anything, Henry was on a mission to catch minnows. I served as his spotter. “Here’s some!” I’d shout and he’d run over and swoop his net down into the water, hoping to be faster than the darting fish.
I was looking for other interesting things, mostly—fossils in the creek bed, orange mushrooms, trees stretching tall and straight and climbing out of roots that cling to hillsides in spite of the dirt having been washed out from underneath them, good light to catch my littlest child growing more and more into himself with every passing hour.
As I stared into the water, a caterpillar plummeted to its not-death from some high leaf and landed in the stream right in front of me. It was one of those white caterpillars with a couple black dots on it.
“Henry! Check this out!” I called. We found one just like it a couple years ago on a pin oak in our backyard in Copley. We had never seen one like it, which isn’t saying much for him but is quite something for me, having inhabited these parts of the world all my life. That was probably three years ago already, when he was five and so much smaller, just beginning to love all of the wild things. And here we are now, every sentence from my explorer beginning, “Did you know…” or “Look!” or “Mom, come here!” followed by some fun fact I may or may not have already known about the world.
We watched our creature fallen from heaven crawl with impressive speed for his inch-long body and turned the stick over and around so he wouldn’t fall into the water again.
Sometimes things fall right into your lap. That wasn’t what you were looking for but here it is and it’s the perfect thing, just what you needed, just what you desired but never expected. You are doubly blessed, by the thing itself and the surprise of it, the grace and mercy of it.