The first day of school is always momentous, whether it’s your first as a student or your thirty-first as a teacher.
Jemicy’s first day of school this year was a scorcher. The few moments we spent exploring outside required short hops from one shady spot to the next. Still, those spots held the magic of new discoveries.
Under logs: Dozens of nightcrawlers the size of small snakes -“Worm City!”
In the milkweed bed: “1,2,3,4…… 15 monarch caterpillars!”
Along the bank of the tiny pond that the wet summer left below the soccer field: “A frog! Tadpoles! Dragonflies!” For licorice lovers, there was plenty of Perilla to sample.
Under a rock: “Weird bug!”
During recess, we sought shade under a small cherry tree. One person spotted something fuzzy on the ground – a desiccated caterpillar. This discovery quickly led to another unfamiliar caterpillar curled by a rock, then a leaf-like planthopper, a picture-winged fly, some foraging ants, and an orange-headed leafhopper – all under the sparse canopy of the cherry tree. Several of these discoveries turned out to be new species for our biodiversity checklist, including a new county record!
“This,” declared a new M Grouper, “must be the Tree of Life.”
The rest of the week delivered more new sensations: monarch butterflies emerged and flew in greater numbers than I ever recall seeing before; striped oakworm caterpillars were caught scurrying through the grass, praying mantises prowled along walls and shrubs, a tiny saddleback caterpillar hitched a ride into the classroom on a potted fern; sassafras leaves announced their fall color change; a toad shared space with potential dinner companions.
Such an auspicious beginning to a new school year, and every bit as memorable as a new lunchbox.