by Tammy Tillotson

-Ladybug! Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children are all gone.
All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she’s hiding under
The frying pan.

—Children’s Nursery Rhyme, author unknown

Nursery Rhymes are short little poems or verses which very young children find enjoyable and amusing. These precious rhymes are all too often set aside for the young, under the false assumption that adults have somehow outgrown their timeless lessons of banter and rhyme.

Ladybug! Ladybug!
I was playing in the sand underneath the enormous old oak tree. The shade from its branches made the unusually hot summer afternoon bearable. Grandma was seated in a frail aluminum lawn chair complaining about the temperature and how she didn’t understand why us young’uns wanted to play out of doors.

A tiny ladybug alighted on the sand beside me, where I had busily been excavating a small mountain of dirt with a stick. Grandma excitedly showed me the ladybug before my stick could poke it, and taught me the rhyme about the ladybug.

I did not understand why the ladybug’s children did not fly away from the fire if all ladybugs could fly. I asked Grandma to explain that.

Grandma mentioned something about the fire being the sun. The ladybug’s children must not have been smart enough to realize that it was as hot as it was outside, and they baked in the sun because they insisted on playing out of doors when they should have been sitting near a box fan.

We went inside shortly thereafter.

Lanna Ladybug
The first grade musical was the first time I was allowed to wear high heel shoes. After all, Lanna Ladybug was a lady, and high heel shoes were a necessity for a high-falutin’ lady – even if the lady was just a bug.

My mother made my costume. A few yards of red fabric with black polka dots was cut and sewn into two oval-shaped wings. Flattened brown paper bags from Food Lion were better than polyester fill, and also cheaper and readily available.

With flashy gold high heels, brown paper stuffing wings, and a black tulle boa, Lanna Ladybug sang a little ladybug song the night the first graders performed for the PTA. To the surprise of the first grade teachers, she did not get nervous and forget the words like she had done at every single dress rehearsal.

Later that year, Lanna Ladybug made an encore appearance for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Hiding Under the Frying Pan
March winds blow blustery changes. In Germany, the early spring of 2001 was no different.

Drizzling rain and overcast skies were becoming a familiar morning newspaper in a language I was learning to speak fluently. The overwhelming melancholy commentated on both the internal and external weather, and each successive page merely proceeded into further dreariness. I eventually decided that the paper recycle bin was the most appropriate place for the newsworthy daily events.

On exceptionally dreary days, I took great delight in exploring the simple daily activities of the German culture. My younger sister was convinced that I was addicted to retail therapy, but there were other more important elements which I found particularly interesting.

In America, lifestyles are often so fast paced and centered around time and money that meaning is lost or somehow swept away without ever really missing it.

Contrarily, Germans have a more relaxed and carefree way of going about simple tasks such as going to market and shopping. There were not any twenty-four hour convenience marts, or all-nighter waffle houses. Most stores closed by four o’clock at the latest on Saturday afternoon. If a Sunday floh market vendor did not sell what a person needed it was probably not going to be found anywhere else before ten o’clock Monday morning.

Many Americans found these differences to be great inconveniences. I found them to be quite refreshing, as well as a welcome change of pace. When I managed to find the new Super Center Wal-Mart that other military wives raved about, I was disappointed. The yellow smiling faces on the blue vests seemed entirely out of place. I actually felt they were being forced to smile, and for some reason this struck me as humorous. Wal-Mart did not make me feel any closer to home, nor did it make me feel homesick as other people had reported. The irony was quite sad, and only made me feel more like a misfit.

So, I went shopping at Mobel Walther on rainy days when I needed some quiet time.

I meandered around the enormous store for hours, often spending an entire idle afternoon just observing people and the unique material items that speak volumes about a particular culture’s way of life.

I had decided that I wanted to try baking stollen. Since it was well beyond the Christmas holiday season, the stollen pans were on sale. The kitchenware aisle was always distracting, as there was shelf after shelf of interesting household gadgets. The blenders, toasters, and coffee makers all came in assorted neon and primary colors. Many of the utensils that would normally be found in the kitchen were all available in coordinating shades, as were the pots and pans.

I was amused by a neon green frying pan. Since my Revereware was silver, but black on the bottom, I picked up the frying pan just to see if the bottom was neon colored also. I was more amused that the bottom of the pan was indeed neon green. When I glanced back to the shelf where the frying pan had been, I noticed something odd and strangely out of place.

A small ladybug shaped cake pan had been hiding under the frying pan.

I vaguely recalled a ladybug rhyme, and coupled with the idea that the ladybug is a popular European symbol for good luck, the only pan I ended up buying was the little ladybug.

I figured that I could certainly use some good luck. If the little pan could possibly help, I was not going to object.

Fly Away Home
One little ladybug started a migration of ladybugs into my life.

Ladybugs appeared in the most unusual places, at the least convenient times, and under highly unpredictable circumstances. At first, I was not consciously looking for them, because it simply was not necessary. They just had an uncanny way of presenting themselves to me.

The ladybugs came to represent more than just a historical symbol of good luck. I adopted them as my personal symbol of faith, hope, and encouragement, as they entered my life when I desperately needed to venture in a different direction.

The tiny bright-colored bugs gave me the strength to face my fears and fly away home.

I can now acknowledge that a simple childhood rhyme encompasses a vastness of both irony and truth for the adult I am becoming.

My house of domesticated ideals and perceptions has long since burned to the ground. I am no longer afraid to admit that there really was nothing left for me to find in those ashes and rubble, except my own scared self. The small child is no longer afraid to face the destruction and its aftermath.

She has boldly crawled out from under the frying pan.