The day started off badly enough. I wasn’t feeling so hot — one too many gin and tonics the night before. But I roused myself up to go to the Great Green Bike Ride, part of the New Orleans Earth Day Festival. I was there to represent FOLC, as the Lafitte Corridor was the first stop on the ride. but it turns out I needn’t have bothered, as Daniel was there, and not being hungover he spoke to the group.
I didn’t do much more of the ride, peeling off from the group in Treme and heading back home.
Little did I know that I was carrying a hitchhiker, a buckmoth caterpillar. In all my years here I’ve seen a jillion of these nasty critters, but I have never felt their dreaded sting. That was about to change, alas. But I was blissfully ignorant of what lay in store for me. I came home and soon was carrying my daughter on my hip. The caterpillar was riding on my hip as well, and it stung Persephone’s ankles, but she didn’t complain. Then we sat down and started playing on the floor. I felt a stinging sensation on my elbow, and that’s when I saw the bristly little worm.
I kind of freaked out. I flushed the caterpillar down the toilet and used tape to remove any bristles still in my flesh, then used a bag of frozen peas to take the swelling down. I wasn’t tending to Persephone’s sting because I wasn’t yet aware that she’d been stung. Instead, I put a leftover cup of coffee in the microwave.
Persephone was toddling down the hall toward the kitchen. I turned from the microwave to see if the gate at the top of the stairs was shut — it wasn’t — and Persephone had just stepped over the edge — she was falling down the steps — I screamed and ran down after her but she kept tumbling — all the way down to the bottom!
It’s a terrible thing to see your baby fall down a flight of stairs. I hope I never see anything like that again. I’m afraid this image will fill my nightmares for years to come.
The truly bizarre thing is this: She wasn’t hurt. Not even bruised. I guess fifteen small little falls don’t necessarily add up to much. Oh, she was shook up and howled for a while, and of course I was scared to death she’d broken her neck or her arm or got a concussion. But upon close examination, we realized she was fine. That’s how we discovered the caterpillar stings on her ankles, which we treated with tape, ice, and a poultice of baking soda and water. The sting was worse than the fall.
So that was one hell of a morning. The rest of the day was blissfully uneventful: a trip to the grocery, painting the deck, a stroll to the bayou to check out the Earth Day Festival.
I’m so relieved she wasn’t hurt, and so horrified by the thought of what might have been.