We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. - Henry David Thoreau
When I was in kindergarten, my class had a caterpillar. We watched as it grew plumper and formed its chrysalis, and we spent several weeks during its time away learning about the wondrous process taking place within its casing. It was, as I recall, a monarch butterfly, so it was probably in there for around 10 days, liquifying its insides while we drew grubby pictures of what we assumed it would eventually look like.
The day it finally began to emerge had to have been the most thrilling in my puny life, and I'm sure that goes for my 25ish other classmates, too. Once it was fully relieved of its cocoon, our teacher, Ms. Diego, brought us outside for its release party. I remember she wore sunglasses for the occasion, giving it an element of exotic, field-trippy fanfare.
Ms. Diego was a kind, gentle lady, but she made it clear that we had to back the hell off as she opened the top to the butterfly's transportation tank—probably an old mayonnaise jar or something. I remember being packed in tight with my classmates, all of us straining desperately to watch as our caterpillar—the one we'd spent what felt like eons raising—take its first, halting flaps as a newly formed butterfly. If I have a child and that child eventually goes to college, I can't imagine being any more filled with pride and wonder and general joie de vivre then I was when I saw it lurch from its jar and begin its slow, miraculous ascent into the world.
That is, until Amber Finney* stepped on it, crushing it between the pavement and her Keds. Have you ever heard 25 children start bawling in unison? It's horrible, like what I imagine a humpback whale sounds like outside of water. "I HATE HER," I recall one boy finally managing to cry, putting words to how we all felt.
I don't remember much of Amber's personality prior to that moment, but over the course of the next five years, she became quiet and withdrawn. I moved away, but heard in high school that she'd developed a nasty coke habit and maybe starred in a porn. All of this, I am convinced, can be attributed to her stepping on that damn butterfly.
Anyway, this video goes out to you, Amber. Hope you're OK, and at least we can blame this bird's demise on the window and not your big, oafish feet.
*Named have been changed to protect the clumsy.