Cricket Killer

It all started the other night right before bed. Bradley came running to me, “Mom, there’s a jumping black spider in my room! It’s really big, Mom!”

A spider jumping? I’m so confused. And ugh! I’m in the middle of getting the twins ready for bed- sitting on the toilet seems to take these two forever and Collin’s being Collin and needing constant supervision. And now I have to catch a spider in the boys’ room?! A jumping one, none the less. And all I really want to do is get these kids to bed because I’m tired and honestly, these kids are driving me nuts!

I really doubt there’s a spider, so I didn’t rush. “Where is it?” I ask Bradley as I go into the room and scan the walls and floor. He points to a corner by the closet, “There it is!” he exclaims.

I look, expecting to see lint or something silly that’s not a spider at all, but there was something there.

“It’s just a cricket,” I say, a little confused because I have never seen a cricket in the house before, especially on the second floor. They are usually in basements or something.

Yet there it was- a big fat cricket skimming along the baseboard. His black body shined in the light as I chased him down and tried to catch him with my bare hands. His legs felt spiny against my cupped hands and just when I thought I had him he would leap out of my hands and escape.

I can’t believe Bradley doesn’t know what a cricket is! I somehow feel I have failed him in some small way because every kid should be able to identify crickets, along with lightning bugs and rolly pollys (you know those grey things with lots of legs that roll into a little round ball when you flick them).

I told Bradley to keep a watch on him and I went and got toilet paper from the bathroom so I could catch it. I used to catch them with my hands when I was little, no big deal. I don’t know when I became such a wimp, the squirming fat body and sticky legs keep freaking me out. I feel as if I’m not setting a good example for the kids, squealing every time it jumps from my hands.

I pick it up with the toilet paper. I can feel its fat body squirming between my fingers. I run to the bathroom and fling the whole thing in the toilet. We watch it swim around the toilet bowl. It keeps trying to escape up the slippery sides of the bowl.

“Mom!” Bradley is entirely exasperated and a little upset by my actions. “Why did you do that?!” he demands. “It’s where we pee and stuff. Gross! It’s gonna die!”  (Hello?! Yea, that’s the whole point. But I didn’t say anything about that.)

I guess I should have/could have let the cricket go outside. It makes me think back to my science teacher in college. Seriously, she would NOT kill a fly. If there was an ant, bug, or spider, she would not hurt it and would get quite upset if you smashed him with your foot or slammed a book down on the insect. She would save the little creature by scooping it up on a sheet of paper and gingerly carrying it outside to let it free. How kind and caring. I guess I don’t always have it in me, considering I’m a cricket killer tonight.

So here was this experience where I could have taught Bradley some sort of lesson, like kindness or taking care of our environment because all animals and insects are important to our Earth…but instead I flushed the jumping black spider/cricket down the toilet.

Cricket killer.

But it’s bedtime! I don’t have the time right now to deal with a cricket and I lost my patience right after dinner when I started counting down the minutes until bedtime.

Maybe next time I will set it free. Maybe next time I will have some compassion for that annoying fly or pesky cricket that shouldn’t be in our house in the first place. Just maybe.

xxx

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Butterflies and Fly Puke

A yellow monarch dances under the willow trees skinny swaying arms. There is a light breeze and I see a fish jump in the calm lake, almost as if it is a rock skipping in the water. It is Monday; all the other campers are gone, except for a few empty RV’s next to us and one other family further up the road. I sit in my green lawn chair, drinking my Mt. Chill (don’t you just love the names of generic pop?), and take deep cleansing breaths of nature. I’m really glad the wind is blowing the other direction; otherwise you smell the port-a-potties that are three cabins down. They have their advantages and disadvantages of being so close.

A cardinal, bright as an apple with a shiny beak, lands under the tree less than 3 feet away from me. I sit still and watch him hop on his strong bird legs. He cocks his head looking at me, as if he is asking me where everyone went. He jumps higher on the tent pole like an acrobat, scaling the side of the tent sideways. Man, I wish I had my camera. Then I remind myself just to enjoy the moment. I take a picture in my head.

It is almost perfect; the scenery, the weather, the quiet peacefulness. Then a fly buzzes my ear. I can count at least 20 of them on the porch rail, and that is only the ones standing still for a brief second to include them in the head count. I once heard that a fly pukes every time it lands. I imagine all the fly puke everywhere. If this is true, then our entire cabin and everything around it is saturated in fly puke. Oh nature, how I love you.

I am only a part-time nature lover. I can take it in short bursts.

Where do the flies go at night? Where are the mosquitoes during the day? And why do they feed on us? I have decided this is nature’s irony.

Dishsoap & Dragonflies

Day 3

I went to our outside watering hole to wash my hands. The translucent wing of a young dragonfly was stuck like tape to the orange bottle of dishwashing soap. You could see the veins of the delicate wings sparkle in the morning sunlight, like a freshly spun spiderweb gleaming in the light. His thread thin legs clung to the wooden pole, as if trying to support himself and break free. I imagined it probably felt like hanging there from your hair, your scalp in pain, follicles screaming to break free, giant hands coming at you, please don’t smash me, please don’t hurt me! I meant to help him but my hands were wet and I went to dry them off, for fear I might further damage his wings, and got busy and forgot. It was like that all day, same story – just a different interruption. The dragonfly was still alive and hanging there in the evening, as the sun was setting. I finally set him free.

xxx

From Tadpoles to Tiny Frogs

I step out onto the back porch, the concrete burning my feet, and tap the turquoise tote with my big toe. I watch the remaining two tadpoles fly through the water, startled and swimming for the next rock or pond scum to hide under. The color of the tote reminds me of the ocean, somewhere tropical that I will not be visiting for a long time…we will wait until the babies get bigger, but a girl can always dream palm trees. The ripples my tapping toe makes must look like tidal waves to the little creatures. Their new skinny frog legs flailing at their sides.

And yes, there are only two left. One died of natural causes and the other from a curious toddler who decided to go wading in the tote. Oops!

They are so tiny, they could sit on a dime and still have lots of room. “Be careful,” I warn Bradley as he catches it with pinching fingers and sets it gently on his palm. I am hopeful it is still alive as he puts it on his hand. A hop and a jump…yep, it’s still kicking!

We had a lot of fun raising them and watching them change and grow. Hope to do it again next year.

xxx

Below is a short video of the babies Bradley caught at the farm. There was so many! We let them go before we went home. Bradley lightly dumped the jar and they jumped, darted, and swam away.

 

Raising Tadpoles

The dishes are done, the laundry is clean, and all the sweet babies are in bed. It’s been a long day and the bottoms of my feet just ache. But FINALLY…I get to sit down and relax (hope I didn’t just jinx myself). I’m lounging on the couch on the front porch, enjoying the cool breeze.

There is a large plastic container sitting on my counter (the one where we end up collecting all the junk; purse, bills, etc. It would make a great kitchen bar if we could just knock out part of the wall). The braided pretzel label on the container has been wet and is wrinkly and trying to peel itself off. This is our makeshift tadpole home. It is equipped with a nice large rock, courtesy of the Mississippi River, and 4 tiny tadpoles, courtesy of my mom’s co-worker. Bright green pond scum floats lazily in the murky water and clings to the edges of the rock. Tadpoles dart around the edges, as if they are racing. You can see their tiny little frog legs right by their tiny tadpole tails. 

Directions for taking care of these babies are handwritten on a scrap of paper and scotch taped to the sides, along with the lid.

Keep in shade. Needs a rock to get out of water (check). Do not feed. They eat their tails. Rain/distilled water. Keep water clean (need to do that).

Now we will just keep our fingers crossed they live and we get to see them turn into frogs or toads.

I will keep it updated.

xxx

Below are a few misc. pics of the day and a video. The boys had a blast cleaning the rocks, but of course! It deals with water. 🙂

Happenings in the Backyard…

A lot has been happening in our backyard lately. Besides the baby bunnies, which you can read about in the previous post, we have 3 bird’s nests. One I’m pretty sure is empty, the second I can’t see because it is in a ledge, but I see the momma sparrow coming and going and I can hear the little chirps, and the third is actually in a light fixture on the side of my neighbor’s house. Every time I do the dishes or sit on the back porch I can see the momma robin feed her babies. It is so cute to see the little beaks stretched out and open, waiting for their momma to feed the four babies. That is kinda how I feel sometimes, three little babies lined up with mouths open waiting to be fed. And I go down the line, spooning food into each little mouth. (One is actually Collin, he thinks he needs to be fed along with the babies.)

I have been watching this bird’s nest for the last couple weeks now. It is amazing how fast they are growing.

The babies are out of the nest now. This morning I was sitting on my porch and I watched the momma Robin pecking for worms with one of her baby’s by her side.  When she flew off he wasn’t able to make it over the fence. I got a cute pic.

Amazing how much you can see and learn just in the backyard!

We also had a baby sparrow in the yard. I made the kids come in from playing ball until he figured out how to fly away, which seemed to be all afternoon.

I tried to peek at the bunny nest yesterday, but it is covered with fur and I couldn’t see anything. Maybe soon there will be floppy ears peeking out from their little nest.

It’s a jungle out there!

xxx