It’s winter in California, and much needed rain is blanketing some parts. Wet, autumn-like leaves jumble themselves together on walkways, lawns and streets; evocative reminders, like multi-colored sticky notes, that the changes we’ve jotted down are just around a few warmer corners. Our fervent New Year’s resolves will finally thaw into a joyful, productive spring—or so we hope.

We can—at least— count on spring to warm our bodies with a fresh sun, the most perfect natural sphere ever plucked from God’s pocket. Soon, fragrant flowers will jut their heads confidently through ground we thought might stay concrete-dry for another eternal season. As they thrust their happy palette and delicate scents upon us, we will harvest these sweet promises like urgent bees gathering up powdery yellow pollen.

It’s likely, if we look closely, carefully folding back tender green blades, at the city park jungle (I’ve called it that since I was a kid—that teeming marketplace of shovel head worms, sow bugs, pincers and more—just under the grass) we will see an exoskeleton or two; a walking stick’s or perhaps, in the bushes, even a snake’s; near perfect replicas of their old selves.

Oh to have an exoskeleton; a reason to shed something we no longer need with regularity but without pomp and circumstance. Why do we humans find it so difficult to let go of that which does not serve us?

A recent conversation with a friend, one who has had the kind of hard-knock life that forges a deep, contemplative, beautiful soul, reminded me to give myself a body check. What am I carrying around that no longer serves me? Opinions, responsibilities, viewpoints, beliefs, habits, parenting styles, or even phrases I use?

It’s winter now, and I’m digesting this epiphany as fast as I can, like a ravenous tobacco worm munching leaf after leaf as she fattens herself up just before burrowing into the moist earth for her amazing transformation into a hawk moth.

What will I become? What kind of exoskeleton will I leave behind?

Beetle Larva



19 thoughts on “Exoskeleton

  1. Such up-periscope moments to discard one’s flotsam overcomes William James’s quote, “A great many people believe they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” Your writing style is growing more imaginative.

  2. You have more than a handful of wonderful images here –autumn leaves like ‘multi-colored sticky notes’, the ‘sweet promises’ of springtime flowers, and the oh-so-metaphoric exoskeleton. Sometimes, even when we have experienced some subtle transformation, our habitual mind still sees the former incarnation. It’s a little like a child poking her head behind mama’s skirt and asking, ‘Is it safe?’

    1. Deborah, you noticed the parts I enjoyed writing most. I sought to give the reader the same experience I was having as the thoughts swirled inside of me.

  3. This is really a lovely piece, Britton. So full of vivid images and textures. You should submit this to River Teeth Lit Journal. It deserves a wider audience. Your work just keeps growing in its eloquence.

    1. Thank you Jayne. I’ve definitely been finding that the more I read the richness of others’ works, the richer my own writing feels. Thanks for noticing.

  4. Exoskeleton–what a wonderful title. It drew me in immediately. This piece is so full of wonderful descriptions–I especially loved “like multi-colored sticky notes.” PERFECT! I think we’re lucky to be able to put words to paper (or computer) because each time I do it, I shed another layer of my own exoskeleton. So many layers to let go…xxoo

  5. Words as smooth as a baby’s bottom … or the top of my head. In any case, your writing has always been expressive and beautiful, but I think of late it is even more so.

    Thanks for taking the time to observe and comment, and for sharing.


  6. This is inspiring for the beauty of the prose as well as the wisdom of the sentiments it expresses. Thank you.

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