WriteOut Just Things

ringed crater near Odessa, Wa
Small crater formed during the ice age in million year old basalt. One of many at Odessa Craters, Odessa, WA, managed by the Bureau of Land Management [BLM].

A boring hole in the ground

Today we returned home from a conference and passed one of our favorite places: the Odessa Crater Trails, which we walked through partially in 2018.

The photo above of the hole with water is something amazing that may only be found in Odessa, Wa. It’s a crater, but not a volcanic or meteor created crater. This crater started as cooling lava with with water millions of years ago, leaving a lake-like edge. Then, later, thousands of years ago an ice age flood eroded away the weaker parts, leaving circular, ringed craters. Read about them here Geocaching / Geology of Odessa Craters and learn from this video:

Near Odessa, WA

Scott and I had walked along the path to a couple of the ringed craters. Now the area is a semi-arid shrub-steppe ecosystem, so if you go, bring water to drink! And watch for rattle snakes.

path to ringed craters in the shrub-steppe ecosystem of today

You may think the area is boring and scratchy and hot and dry. But there’s so much more here. Look what I found:

caterpillar on basalt rock at Odessa Craters near Odessa, WA


Usually I find a photograph the swallowtail butterfly, and create a bit of art about these beauties. Here you can see our butterflies and their life cycle, including the larvae caterpillar. Learn more at Butterfly Conservation.

What is the orange caterpillar?

The orange caterpillar I found is the larvae of the two-tailed swallowtail butterfly. Here’s a public domain image from Alan Schmierer. My photo is a Papilio multicaudata — caterpillar of the two-tailed swallowtail butterfly on a basalt rock in the Odessa Craters Trails near Odessa, WA. I was very excited when I returned home to do a reverse image search to discover what the little creature would become. Not boring, but so interesting. Now I know and you know!

two tailed swallowtail butterfly; image in Public Domain by Alan Schmierer on Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/fmHtjQ

Not so boring, in poetry

And so, for WriteOut, I wrote this poem for two voices– a person bored with being out and hot in the dull landscape and a friend who brings a bit of knowledge to him/her and so brings the person to the exciting part of going outside and EXPLORING!

two-tailed swallowtail caterpillar and poem
on Flickr

Just Things

It’s boring outside—
Just dirt and rocks
and plants and things—

Oh— what’s that?
wriggling up that rock—

It’s basalt.


A rock made from cooled lava.

No- that orange worm!

A caterpillar

A caterpillar? Ugh!

It’s looking for a place to hide.


It wants to form a pupa where it will open up into

A butterfly?

a two-tailed swallowtail butterfly

It’s exciting outside.
Basalt, caterpillars,
non-living and living things!

What’s that…

Sheri Edwards
10.08.23 281.365.23


I hope you enjoyed this little adventure into exploring in nature in a local hiking and geology area. Adventures are everywhere outdoors. Even in your neighborhood. And what you discover, you can write about– either the story or a poem or a fact sheet. What will you discover and write?

Join in!

This post is part of the October WRITEOUT adventure, October 8 through the 22nd, partnership of the National Writing Project and the National Park Service — a choice to enjoy the outdoors with poetry, prose, and parks for Write Out 2023. Organized as a public invitation to get out and create, supported by a series of free online activities, Write Out invites educators, students, and families to explore national parks and other public spaces. The goal is to connect and learn through place-based writing and sharing.  Check out this infographic for the flow of the two weeks.

Learn more and sign up: https://writeout.nwp.org

This is my sixth year with WriteOut with all my WriteOut posts here.