Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Holy Mexican Jumping Beans, Batman!

I've been waiting years to come up with a new Robin exclamation directed at Batman. It took a trip to Tucson, Arizona, this weekend to finally fulfill that lifelong desire. Tongue and cheek aside, I traveled to the sunny state to be a part of my oldest friend's wedding. It was so much fun catching up with people from high school that I haven't seen in over twenty years (and ageing at the same time). Staying up late, toasting to my friend's lifelong happiness, even enjoying a day of just me and my husband time paled to the discovery I made while I was there.

Mexican jumping beans.

For those who grew up in snow country, childhood may not have included watching these "beans" jump around, so you may not be feeling that sparkle of magic from reading those three little words. While I spent my childhood in Indiana, my mom's family all lives in Texas, and I spent many a summer there. I'm not sure what it is about those beans that is so mesmerizing for a child, but I was hooked at a tender age.

Mexican jumping beans are actually seeds. There is a specific type of moth that plants its eggs in these seeds. The larvae spend there whole wormy stage cocooned in the seeds, moving around to find the choicest morsels to eat, which is why the beans jump.

To a kid, they're magic. You can't predict when they will move, or where the little pods will hop to.

When I found them on my trip, I knew I had a great souvenir to bring home to my children. Sure enough, my girls stayed up half the night watching their beans hop around. Now they are waiting impatiently for the larvae to turn into moths. Poor things. The moths, that is. They still have a few months to go.

In the meantime, our house has been taken over my Mexican jumping bean madness. We've found books on the Mexican jumping beans, a game to play with them, and they have been all the rage for show-and-tell at school.

Holy Mexican Jumping Beans, Batman! Who knew that in today's world of technological savvy a little worm and seed could still cause such excitement.

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