Weird dreams last night.

In one, I'm watching documentary footage about volcanoes in someplace that looks like it must be in Northern Asia. Wherever it is, it's also the place I'm living--later I go down into the hills and valleys of the countryside where I live and start visualizing, in vivid three-d semi-hallucination, how the lava or mud or whatever will flow from a pyroclastic release (it was being nice and orderly and following the roads, rather than just spreading out over everything willy-nilly like liquid ought to). The documentary footage is black-and-white and visuals ambiguous as to whether it's lava or pyroclastic mud...it looks runny like water, virtually trickles across the landscape, and and sets things on fire. The narrater's voice can't be heard, anyway.

Same place, different dream--no volcaneoes. I'm living in a place rather like Old Home, hidden somewhere in the hills, and the situation is even quite a bit like depicted in Haibane Renmei - I live with a small community of other women (all of us friends), we practice voluntary simplicity (or simply have to live a frugal lifestyle), and there's a town nearby with a delightfully anachronistic feel to it (while the people are modern-esque and culturally familiar). To top off the resemblence, I even look similar to Hikari from the show (dirty blonde, ponytail, on the slim side and with a similar fashion sense...longer skirts and black tops, however, and I'm a bit older than the character was).

I spend some time in town with the others (one of whom is hauntingly similar to my real-world sister), but get sidetracked twice--first, in an old map store (there's actually maps of the world beyond, and no walls here...but the world is not as it really is; there's a land bridge connection South America to Africa in the northern part of the former continent, and the map generally looks quite different...though just familiar enough to have all the familiar continents, at least in terms of relative position and name, and quite a few new ones besides), and then a Chinese trinket shop which actually has some live silk moths, which have finished hatching and breeding and are growing old as they patiently wait to starve to death (since adult silk moths can't eat). They're being sold as pets--charms, really, since they're so ephemeral and transitory--and they're large and fuzzy and cute. I snug one, and also a hamster that happens to be in the box with them. Meanwhile, I'm watching two *very* large caterpillars (maybe eight inches long), who look suspiciously like larval Mothra, prepare to undergo metamorphosis

It starts with a shimmer of heat on their bodies, which actually gets so warm their exteriors begin to "cook" slightly. They look like they're being exposed to fire for a moment, and I worry something's gone dreadfully wrong. They tense and stretch and I'm worried for them, but someone tells me it's alright, they're specially adapted to cope with this...in fact, they generate the heat in their interiors during early metamorphosis, to catalyze the process of forming a cocoon (which they sweat out) and to get a head start on breaking down some of the materials in their skin (which is a crucial step in the metamorphic process, since much of their anatomy becomes a liquid inside the cocoon). After that I'm less worried and simply fascinated, watching as the clear sweat pools on their surfaces and begins to resemble foamed wax. Abruptly, from their heads emerge fountains of cocoon-material, which arc gracefully toward their tails and draw the cocoons around them like a sock being pulled up a foot. Now secure, they rest.

During all this the lady puts a very large moth in a box with the others. It's almost the size of a hawk. I find myself wondering how big they get, but I don't try to hold the moth. I'm fascinated with the caterpillars. I want to see if there are any left, and there are...but they're some small ones, which haven't eaten all the glue pellets the lady gives them to help secrete their cocoons. The pellets, a number of unhatched eggs and some debris from previous exoskeletal molts have all been swept onto a conveyor belt, which leads directly into a machine meant to dispose of it all (not quite an incinerator, but something equally final for whatever goes in). I feel sorry for the runty caterpillars, but the woman running the place just stares at me blankly when I ask if they can be saved. Numbly, I get dragged away by someone from the group, who's tsking and fretting because she'll have to explain this to me later, and it's apparently a difficult thing for newcomers to hear.

Later, back at the home we all share, I discover I'm pregnant: evidently, the more doctorly sort living with us got clued in by the way my breasts were swelling, and my tummy is beginning to show by the time I find out. I realize my body will be preparing to nurse, and it's going to be only months before there's a child in our midst. Everyone seems happy; there's no indication as to how I got pregnant, but this is a place where nobody cares, and we all take care of each other. That includes both me and my child, evidently, so I'm happy. As I try to decide whether I want it to be a boy or a girl (evidently I get at least a little choice in the matter; Schroedinger's baby with a Copenhagen twister), some of the others are telling me what I will and won't be able to eat, how I'll need to change my eating and exercise habits to be healthy for the new baby. Suddenly it dawns on me, as we converse, that I now have a reason to take care of myself...because it wasn't enough when it was just for me, but everyone wants to see the new baby, and I don't want to disappoint them. I smile inwardly, holding back tears, because I know I wouldn't be able to do it if it was just me I had to care for, and I'm thankful that my life finally gave me a reason to start...