This afternoon, I made the aquaintance of Walter the caterpillar. He is a year long resident of Maine, who arrives sometime during July through October and then winters over and like all caterpillars, transform themselves into a moth the following spring. It’s one of those pretty amazing magical events. I saw him just kind of moseying along the railing near our room and we caught one another’s glance and there we were, just hanging out, getting to know one another. It’s good when a local and a tourist communicate. I actually think he was the one to tell me his name first, and I’m not actually sure if I told him my name. We didn’t actually speak out loud, because that just causes others to question one’s sanity, but somehow I knew that Walter was his name. I was off and running to catch up to my FHB because we were on our way to see the town of Belfast so I couldn’t really exchange too much information. So, I said to Walter “see you later!” and headed off, but not before I took his picture.
I didn’t think much about Walter as our day progressed, but I did take a moment to find out a little more about him. So, nowadays, as we all know, finding out information about someone is not that difficult anymore. Just google “Maine caterpillar” and you can find out much more than you expect and sometimes, things turn dark and destructive. Yes, Walter is not all he seems. Looked kind of cute and furry with these black and white hairs sticking out. Turns out he can create havoc and an allergic reaction and itching and I am just not even going to give you more information, because I am itching already and didn’t even touch him. His real name is Walter the Hickory Tussock Moth. He hangs around trees and eats leaves and give people a rash.
I’ve always been a bit naive about things that appear to be nice and cute, and I like finding out (or imagining) their names. Makes you less scared of bugs, spiders, snakes and the like.
But cute critter status aside, there’s a reason why the Swiss German word for caterpillar (teufelskatz) translates to “devil’s cat.” Caterpillars have a dark side, one that justifies entomophobia, the fear of caterpillars.
We have another two days to spend in Maine. It has been a good trip, albeit hot and humid (two of my least favorite weather experiences). We read, drove around and ate some good food and talked to few people, which is pretty much what we like. We are somewhat ninja tourists. We like the quiet and solitude of our own company and try to stay out of sight. Vacations are interesting pathways to recognizing that the longer you stay somewhere, the likelihood is that you will find a routine that makes you feel like you are in a temporary home till it’s time to go back to where you came from. The locals like it that way, as do the tourists, and probably even the caterpillars. Well, Walter, no need to keep in touch. If I see a moth close by next spring, I won’t even remember your name.