Dancing in the Moonlight
Woodilla the stick bug munched on the leaves of the guanacasta tree. They tasted sweet and juicy in the moonlight at the edge of the rainforest. Everything was perfect, except for one thing. Woodilla was lonely. She held onto the brown, bumpy branch, looking just like it, and swayed in the breeze as a bird landed on her branch and then flew away. At least she wasn’t someone’s supper. She watched the bird disappear among the trees and then decided to go for a walk to see if there were any other stick bugs around.
Woodilla sat still most of the time, meandering from leaf to leaf when she was hungry, but when she decided to travel, she was quick. First she ran around the trunk to the other side of the tree, but she didn’t see another living thing. She did see another tree next to hers, so she ran down the trunk and across to the next tree. She climbed to the first branches and stopped to nibble on some leaves. They tasted pretty much the same as the leaves on her tree. The warm breeze stirred the branches all around her. Woodilla watched their shadows dancing on the ground below. She imagined that it was a stick bug party. She fluffed up her antennae and joined the party.
She danced with the shadows for a while. It was fun, but she was hungry again. And still lonely. She climbed up another tree. When she hatched, she had climbed onto the first tree she found and stayed there. Until tonight. She sighed as she started munching on leaves again, still alone. Maybe she was the only stick bug. It could be. That made her very sad. She stopped chewing and leaf juice dribbled out of her mouth.
“Hey, I don’t mind sharing the leaves. But don’t drool on me. That’s gross.”
“I’m sorry,” she said. She looked all around but didn’t see anyone. “But who are you? Are you real?” She had danced with pretend stick bugs, maybe she was hearing pretend ones, too.
“You just walked past me a minute ago. Look under the branch.”
She looked under but still didn’t see anything.
“You’re looking right at me.”
Then she saw a tiny branch waving and she looked more closely. Another stick bug!
“I’m hard to see. And so are you. I only saw you because you were moving.”
“Can I join you?” asked Woodilla. “What’s your name? Can we be friends?”
“Yes, Slim and yes!” answered Slim.
“If you’ll be my friend, you can come to my birthday party,” said another voice. “There’ll be dancing.” If stick bugs could blush, Woodilla would have. She hadn’t even thought that someone might be watching her.
But Maureen, a very little stick bug, who looked like she was covered with moss, had been watching.
Woodilla discovered that there were a dozen stick bugs living on this tree. None of them had ever met before. They all danced together in the moonlight, and then stopped for a snack. The leaves tasted much better than they ever had before.
The moon set and the breeze died down. “Well, time for me to go back to my spot and take a nap,” said Maureen, “But I’ll see you when the moon comes up again.”
All the stick bugs went back to their homes. As they stopped moving, Woodilla couldn’t see them. But she knew they were there, and that made her happy.
“Come share my spot,” said Slim. “There’s plenty of room and plenty of leaves, too.”
“Thanks,” said Maureen as she stretched out her front legs and settled down to sleep.
“Thanks for everything,” she murmured with a smile.
Here is another story inspired by my trip to Central America. I didn’t actually see the stick insects in the wild–or maybe I did and didn’t even know it. We saw them at the really awesome bug exhibit at the Monteverde Butterfly Garden where I learned many interesting things about bugs and butterflies and Rachel even got to release a newly emerged butterfly, which traveled on her shirt for a long time.
I’ve been enjoying thinking about those warm days as I watch the big, lazy flakes of the first snow here in Chicago.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Thanks for stopping by.