I have been eaten by caterpillars & other early September stories



This morning a leaf beckoned me to open the deck door and walk outside.  Come, come, it whispered.  I am covered with dew.  I am a harbinger of autumn, even though most of your leaves still sing in green.  I have been eaten by caterpillars.  Perhaps even the caterpillar that fell on your hand that fateful night last week, Kathy.

It’s a caterpillar versus leaf world out there.  More accurately, it’s an interdependent ecosystem out there with each precious organism depending on another for its very lifeblood.


The name of this lovely caterpillar, thanks to my god-daughter Rosalee is a Banded Tussock Moth Caterpillar.  When I posted this on my Facebook page in a moment of caterpillar love and mystery one dusky evening, Rosalee took it upon herself to delve into the encyclopedia of online Google and discover the scientific name of this creature who fell from the sky unto a person’s hand.

She faithfully searched and searched.  Was it the milkweed tussock moth?  Close but no.  Besides, milkweed grows down by the bay, but not in our curve of the woods.  (A fact she wouldn’t know.)


I also posted these photos on Facebook yesterday.  I was willing to blog ’em first, but no blog appeared until the leaf fell this morning, so you guys are second fiddle this time, but not in my heart.  Besides, you guys get stories!

The above full wood shed of split logs features the fruit of our summer work.  We’ve been busy little caterpillars, eating away at delivered logs of trees.  The chainsaw whirs, the splitter slices and the humans fill the 1949 Studebaker pickup truck with logs.  Then we unload them in our relatively new wood shed.

Full disclosure:  I like splitting wood.  While it’s a lot of summer work, it’s become a fun ritual over the years.  We try to cut and split before the sun shines at its zenith.  We try to avoid 80 (26C) degree splitting.  I feel like it’s good exercise, something to do on long summer morns or evenings.  And we LOVE the feeling of steady wood heat throughout the endless winter, we surely do.  Propane heat feels cold and miserly.  Wood heat warms your bones, it surely does.


Fuller disclosure:  See the last of our little pile that won’t fit in the wood shed?  It’s been reduced by a third since this photo shoot.  We’re stacking it between the trees behind the pile.  Now one row lies covered with a silver tarp.  See our wood splitter?  Isn’t she lovely?

Fullest disclosure:  I am soooo ready for wood splitting to be entirely over.  Only about twenty-five logs to go.


The last photo is the garden in front of our little house.  The little house that Barry built.  The little house that Barry and Kathy built all those years ago when we were birthing babies and cooking in cast iron skillets and swatting mosquitoes left and right.

The garden is a lot of work this time of year.  Beans, beans and more beans.  Zucchini, zucchini and more zucchini.  We’ve sold some zukes to the owner of the fruit stand south of town.  He doesn’t like big ones.  He wants small ones.  But big zucchini breed overnight.  At twilight they’re five inches long.  By dawn:  two feet!  (I am only exaggerating slightly, tee hee.  Those of you who’ve grown ’em know how it goes.)

I am still amazed at how this blog post dropped out of the sky like a caterpillar full from eating a red and yellow harbinger leaf of autumn.  Hope you all are enjoying a lovely Labor Day weekend if you’re here in the states.  Otherwise:  your very own Monday, however it’s appearing to you, sunny or cloudy, working or resting, splitting wood or admiring the leaves on beautiful trees.



About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in September 2018 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to I have been eaten by caterpillars & other early September stories

  1. Brenda says:

    Happy Labor Day, Kathy! I love your pictures today! Wow, you guys have sure been busy cutting wood for your cozy lil home! Wood heat sure does warm your bones and brings a deep down warmth to your soul. ❤ I'm sitting here today feeling emotional about some family members up north who lost their son to gun violence. He was only 31 years old and was murdered this weekend. Just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 😦 It's such a tragedy to lose a loved one to violence. Plus I just got some sad news about my sister, too. Life can sure turn on a dime and take us down an unexpected path of sadness and grief. But we can always have hope when we place our trust in God. We don't always know the answers or understand the reasons, but we can always trust that He is right there with us through all the good times and yes, even through the darkest of times. And for this, I am grateful!

    • Kathy says:

      We have been busy little beavers, Brenda. We now have only 16 logs to finish up! Wood heat is so comforting… Am so sad thinking about your loss, my friend. It is so terrible. There are no words to try and comfort a family that has been wracked by random violence. And the news about your sister doesn’t sound good. I like your attitude of trusting beyond our humanness. We sure don’t know the answers or reasons, but we can lean into that support that always surrounds us. xoxoxo

  2. I can identify with much of this post, Kathy, being right in the thick of bean, tomato and zucchini season! I greatly miss the wonderful warmth that wood provides. My house was not suitable for it, though. I woke up to 42 degrees; I came home from work to 42 degrees. The last year that I heated with wood, my pipes froze thirteen times ( burst three times). By the time propane was an option here on Beaver Island, I was ready for it. Still…Happy harbinger of fall day to you!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, too bad we can’t mail veggies to friends and families. Think how easy that would be if it didn’t cause an arm and a leg! Yes, I know some houses aren’t up to wood heat. You always have to be feeding that hungry burning stove so many hours a day. If a house isn’t well-cushioned with insulation, all sorts of pipe-bursting can happen. We had “fun” like that during our early days in the U.P. so know just what you’re talking about. (And we have backup propane, too. I just always get cold these days when it’s on.) Happy day to you as well!

  3. Carol says:

    My goodness, you two have been very busy! When I was still gardening a few years ago, I spent hours harvesting, freezing, delivering bags to neighbors – and the zucchini! I think some of the neighbors were about ready to hide and not answer their doors when I showed up, although one of them likes the big zucchini, which I do not – so when one managed to get past me, it went to her.

  4. Barb says:

    I love the Studebaker – you need to write a post about it and let it pose for some pics. You should be toasty warm this winter. We are still dry here in CO and sure hope for snow when winter comes (it’s already going into 30’s at night). I’m buying end-of-summer produce (peaches and heirloom tomatoes – yum). My perennial gardens are having a last hurrah, but the aspens are starting to change. A cow moose and her calf visited our property yesterday and a young bull earlier in the week. It’s moose mating in the mountains!

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, I think I may have been banned against posting Studebaker pics until the ole truck gets fixed up & painted again. She’s seen younger pre-wood hauling years. Since we have two years worth of wood in the shed Barry’s hoping to spend next year cleaning her up. Thinking of your moose and calf visiting the property–how cool is that? We had a mama doe and her fawn this morning, but a moose and calf would be a real thrill.

  5. dawnkinster says:

    I’m amazed at the amount of wood you two split! It’s so much work! But the heat from wood IS so warm. And I know, too, about zucchini. Sneaky little vegetables grow several inches in a few hours when you’re not looking. It’s a known phenomenon.

    I’ve seen a few trees start to get that reddish tinge, even down here. I put that down to them being ill. Or injured. Or just wrong. I do love September though! Katie is grateful when it gets cooler…but so far it’s not cooler here. This morning was positively hot. But by the end of the week it will be back in the 70s. So they say.

    Enjoy the bounties of your work, you deserve a nice sit down!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, it does seem like the weaker or more stressed trees get that reddish tinge first. Oh and September can be so grand! I love the fall when it’s relatively warm still and it’s so nice to be outside. May be headed downstate to see my mom sometime this month, so am looking forward to seeing how things will be down there. P.S. We’re down to only sixteen logs to finish splitting now. The countdown continues!

  6. You are exercising your mind, body, and soul through your wood splitting, caterpillar conversing, and blog writing, Kathy. If there was a Fitbit for wood splitting, you would have reached 50,000 ‘steps’ in one day! If there was a Fitbit for reaching out to us through the blogosphere with warm wishes toward early September and ideals and ideas of simple, magnificent living, you’d have reached 100,000 ‘steps.’ xo

  7. Love the log pile, love to see a store full of winter warmth, love the log splitter, but we did have a bit of an incident with it that involved the need of an ambulance!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh no! So sorry to hear about that! I just went over to your blog to see if you shared something about that, but nothing came up under a search for “wood splitter”. We are always trying to be so very cautious when using that machine. It’s not without its dangers. I hope everyone was OK after your accident…

  8. Sunny says:

    I look at your log pile with much longing and a little jealousy. Many years ago, I was once promised a fireplace when the Hillbilly was still just my boyfriend and was in the middle of building the home we now live in. I think that’s one item that’s holding a permanent spot on his Honey-Do list. Glad your wood-splitting days are almost done for the year!

    • Kathy says:

      Sunny, it’s an interesting life when wood-splitting is part of it. Maybe the Hillbilly (smile) will someday surprise his Honey and you’re life will never be the same. 🙂

  9. I read every single cotton-picking word that you write. I admit to being fascinated with where you live and your daily activities. Living in the far north of the USA and no less in the woods is surely a nature lovers dream. There is so much to see and so little time for a growing season. I am amazed how fast things grow. I think I counted 20 cords of wood if the wood is double stacked all the way to the back of the shed. The cords that we had to buy years ago were 4 x 4 by 6 or 8 feet. I can’t remember.. Now I must go to Google to check that out.

    • Kathy says:

      You make me smile, Yvonne. Barry could tell you everything about cords, but I am kinda ignorant of all that. There are “face” cords and there are some other kind of cords. We just count pickup truck loads these days! Glad you enjoy reading about our neck of the woods.

  10. I went to Google and saw that my first remembrance was 4 x5 x 8 feet but then I thought that 8 feet is really long. I stopped buying post oak wood the winter of the year that my husband died. It had become too expensive and too much labor since I had to carry it from where it was stacked. I bought an old but in good shape Dearborn heated and set it into the fireplace opening where it juts out about 8 inches. The Dearborn is named for Dearborn, Michigan where it was manufactured for many years, The heater is no longer made as far as I know. But the old ones are unbeatable because they “throw out” great heat. I can heat 3-4 rooms with just that one heater. And most nights I can leave the burners on medium to low flame, I do miss the smell of wood and the crackling wood but— the fumes from the wood and a bit of smoke that drifted into the house where not good for me, so that also played into my decision to stop using the fireplace.

    • Kathy says:

      Now I’ve learned something bout a Dearborn heater! Sounds like the old ones are really comfy. Yes, the smell of wood and the sound of crackling wood is great, but you know what I find challenging? The dust. Woodstoves sure create a lot of dust. Could do without that. Thank you for sharing this. I totally understand your decision to stop using the fireplace.

  11. Lori says:

    Two things. 1) Did you see the photo of our giant zucchini I had put up on my blog when I wrote about eating flowers? You’re SO right. They do seem to grow from undersize to oversize overnight. Would love to put camera on it and watch it grow. 2) I love the smell of wood. Must smell heavenly around that woodshed. Glad you’ll be warm throughout the winter.

  12. Doug Taylor says:

    Kathy, you are so right on the wood heat. There’s nothing like the warmth from a wood stove, it’s the warm dry heat that penetrates your body like no other heat. I’ve always said that burning wood you get warm three times, once cutting it, twice staking it and three times while your burning it. lol. As you might know, I heat 100 % with wood, one Huge add-on wooding stove for my shop (1920 sq ft) and I have an outdoor wood burning water boiler that I built myself that heats my place about (500 sq ft) I swear it works better than any commercial one!!! I DO NOT cut my own wood anymore, as I buy it from the sawmills, then cut it and process it for my stoves. I also sell firewood to the campers.50 lbs for $5.00 and #250 lbs for $20.00. Nobody sells it that cheap anyplace that I know of. But all good things come to an end and so will the wood burning soon, as I’m reaching that age where I can’t do it anymore.

    • Kathy says:

      Doug, I am glad you appreciate wood heat. There IS truly nothing like it! I know a lot of people around here who get their wood pre-cut. Was just thinking this weekend about how a day will come when we’ll look back fondly at our wood cutting and splitting days. It’s been a lifestyle…thanks for sharing your story!

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