Recently, on a fine early summer day, a friend and I went to the Townsend Common to have a box lunch.
The spreading branches of several maple trees envelop the northern part of the Common make it a giant sunshade. This is where the picnic tables reside. On days when it would otherwise be too warm to picnic comfortably, sitting under the shade of these grand old trees makes it just right.
As usually happens, there was a breeze blowing, ruffling the leaves of the trees. We talked about the metaphor of being able to hear the trees talking to each other. I used to hear the wind in the trees. No more. But I can still see them being tousled by invisible fingers of air. And then we began pondering trees sentience and how it could be expressed – chemically perhaps? – and then we began giving thought to the concept of tree memory. If trees store memories and if we were able to access them, wouldn’t that be a wonder? We discussed The Secret Life of Plants. Link to the documentary on YouTube.
I noticed a tiny piece of twig on the table. Then it moved. It moved again. All at once, I realized this wasn’t tree fluff of some kind. With rapt attention I stared at the silver plate embedded in the table. On this commemoration plate was an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie
yellow polka dot bikini inchworm. It was so small that you could not tell its color. I considered taking a picture, but I wasn’t sure I’d see anything than a tiny, skinny line that periodically assumed an inchworm arch.
Now, I am aware inchworms become lovely moths. This one looked as if it had a tiny strand of fluff that attached it to an equally tiny bit of leaf stem. So it was probably trying to create a cocoon only to be flung from the tree by the breeze.
I pointed it out to my friend David, and he also marveled over how incredibly small it was.
It was too small to attempt to touch. I was afraid I’d mash it flat rather than help it back to the tree if fell from. Life is funny that way. We get an overabundance of opportunities to start life because of happenstance like falling on a lousy place to cocoon. Eventually, we left the tiny critter to determine its own destiny and went our own way, taking the detritus of the box lunches with us.