That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Science, Salad and Mr. Bruco

When she was ten years old, Ms SmartyPants wanted a pet snail added to her bug collection of spiders, ants, beetles and other creepy crawlies. Since the age of five, she's dreamed of becoming a scientist, an entomologist, to be exact. Instead, on one bright afternoon four years ago, she was given Mr. Bruco, a caterpillar. Actually, she found him in her lunch plate among the salad greens.

It doesn't happen often, but occasionally there will be such surprises in "prewashed, ready to eat" salad bags. It's bound to happen, I guess. I've never had the experience in the States, but here in Italy, we've had our share of them. Only, they're usually dead by the time we find them. Salad in our house is usually prepared with oil, salt and vinegar, but that afternoon my daughter had asked for plain greens with tuna and so Mr. Bruco was saved a horrible death by pickling.
We placed him in an open glass jar and fed him every green leaf we had available. He seemed to like green bean leaves, and preferred them aged and wilted rather than fresh and crisp. One afternoon we noticed he wasn't moving and wondered if his appetite for green bean leaves had ended up being the death of him. I gently nudged him with the blunt end of a skewer and he flailed about wildly.
The next morning, I used two skewers as chopsticks and carefully removed the old and brown leaves to replace them with fresher ones. I picked up one brown and curled up leaf only to feel it squirm and shake. It was Mr. Bruco!
We weren't sure what species of caterpillar he was, so we didn't know if this was a first stage or final moult. We later read that caterpillars in general will moult 4-6 times before they will finally pupate to become either a moth or a butterfly. I was hoping for a farfalla, a butterfly. Everyone else wanted a falena, a moth.

***Young Mr. Bruco had pupated into a fine adult moth and consequently will be hereby known as Mr. Falena***
We had been checking in on him at least a hundred times a day during the following week, hoping to catch him in the act (of emerging from his cocoon). No such luck. We had just returned from our morning trip to the market and I was putting away groceries when I saw that unmistakeable brown arrowhead shape against the kitchen wall tiles. I called out to Ms. SmartyPants and Mr. Uometto who came running with such force after hearing that, "Mr. Bruco was out and about", that they scared him into a fluttering frenzy. He dashed into an open low shelf and would surely have remained for hours with the potatoes and onions had we not waved some air in there with a hand fan. He gave us all a start when he came bursting out in that haphazard way that moths tend to fly, circled our heads a few times and finally came to rest on the window screen. I caught him using a plastic container and, while it was a bit tricky, I was able to put on the cap.
We weren't sure about where we could keep him. Ms. SmartyPants and Mr. Uometto insisted that he have enough room to fly... so I pulled out an old bird cage we still had from the year before when we had found a dying bat on our windowsill (RIP Mr. Pippistrello). I gathered some mesh type fabric and quickly sewed together a cover for the cage. We learned on the internet that moths eat nectar from flowers and some will even drink fruit juices, so we called Mr. Marito at work and asked him to pick various flowers on his walk home from the train station.
I had never owned a caterpillar / moth, myself, and found the whole experience very interesting, but for me, the best part was being able to watch Ms. SmartyPants and Mr. Uometto fall in love with the tiniest of creatures. Sure, Mr. Falena is just a little (not so attractive in the cute and cuddly sense) bug, but I like to think that he helped in my parental attempts to teach respect and awe for any and all forms of life, he strengthened Ms. SmartyPants' curiosity of all things entomology and a few days later, when we let Mr. Falena join his fellow moths, I like to think that he taught Ms. SmartyPants and Mr. Uometto the value of a life lived in freedom. 
Ms. SmartyPants, always more practical than idealist, insisted we keep him since, "Out there, his chances of survival are very slim. He'll probably be eaten within 2 hours." So, she learned about the circle of life, as well. Grazie Mr. Falena !!

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