PUBLISHED - July 2018

We lived in Greensboro until I was four. I rode my tricycle up and down the sidewalk in front of our house, with Granny shuffling along beside me or watching me from the porch swing. Sometimes I went out to play in the back yard where the the chickens were. The back porch was sunny even in the winter. The wooden planks were soft from the weather and they felt smooth and warm on my bare feet.

Our backyard was just hard dirt except for a few straggly clumps of crabgrass, but there were lots of things that lived out there besides the chickens and me. There were birds and fuzzy caterpillars and pill-bugs, and in the spring there were lots of inch-worms.

They were funny little soft squishy things, bright green, the same color as new spring leaves. They were sort-of like a caterpillar, but they were different. They had two pairs of stubby little feet on the back end of their body, and three pairs on the front end, but none at all in the middle. They would walk their back-feet up toward their front end, which made the middle of their body arch up into a little hump. Then they walked their front-feet forward so the middle came straight again, and by doing this trick over and over, that was how they got anywhere. It took them a long time to get anywhere.

Sometimes they stopped and raised-up on their back legs for a minute with their body standing straight up in the air, like maybe they were looking someplace far off, like to decide where to go next. I found them on the coal shed, or the henhouse, or sometimes swinging on invisible threads like spiderwebs hanging down from the trees. How do they do that?

I watched them crawl on my finger for a minute, doing their funny little hump-walk. Then I put them back on the the tree trunk very carefully. I knew if they fell onto the ground, one of the chickens would snap them up and eat them. Oh horrible death! That only happened once, and then I learned.

Cats Are Zen

 At my kitchen window

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