Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bugged

My childhood home was part of a subdivision built around the outer edges of a series of large, undeveloped fields. It was kind of the mullet of housing arrangements: serene, 1970s abodes in the front...farm-country wilds in the back. I can understand why my parents chose it; it was a little bit of the best of both worlds...and also Dad could practice his bow hunting without worrying about anything more than losing an arrow in the field if he overshot.

For me, however, the combination of fruit trees in the yard and tall, unkempt field weeds beyond the yard's edge really meant just one significant thing: BUGS! I lived for the bugs of summer: fat, erratic grasshoppers...butterflies of all colors and shapes and sizes...squirmy caterpillars...and the endlessly fascinating praying mantis. My Mom would save mayonnaise jars for me and poke holes in the top so I could catch and observe my quarry. We'd trek to the bookmobile once a week to check out more books on entomology and bug collecting. I shudder to think how many of them perished from my fascination.

The black and yellow butterfly was my holy grail of bugs. Though I'd try, summer after summer, they always eluded me. They were too fast and too smart...they flew too high and could sense when I was creeping up. I even resorted to a net for a few years (I was generally partial to just snatching up a butterfly with my fingers), but to no avail. Fortunately, I was always able to assuage my butterfly-bruised ego with lightning bugs....lots of them...easy to catch and mesmerizing as they blinked and winked their nighttime neon. There's no grand sense of victory with lightning bugs...they're just nice.

Last night, the Monkey and I were curled up on the deck enjoying an unseasonably cool evening when the lightning bugs in our back yard woke up. We ran around in the yard for a long time catching them and blowing them off our fingers. It would have been a flashback moment from my childhood, except that the Monkey, as always, has his own unique take on things...

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...yes. "Psychotically still." I don't know why... Later, he explained his fascination with lightning bugs...

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I don't know if they're good for the environment or just good for the soul. Either way, I'm happy that the Monkey and I get to share the things we're bugged by.

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