Carloads of Creepy Crawly Critters
There were a great many of bugs with us Up the Lake.
Correction: since we were in the woods without electricity, running water, or land clearing and gutting structures, there were a bunch of campers in the territory of a great many bugs Up the Lake.
While some could be a nuisance, due to bites, posse size, or general ickiness, most of us found a way to get used to them. That isn’t to say our six legged co-habitants did not contribute to a near continuous stream of those “moments” which led to dinner conversations for years to come. These are the conversations that reduce Up the Lake folks to hysterical laughter, and outsiders to nervous stares hiding the question, “You all really are insane, aren’t you?”
Some moments were born of those not fully adjusted to sharing the wilderness with a multitude of tiny friends.
My daughter was fine with bugs when she was first toddling about. I’m guessing being startled by my wife’s decibel filled reaction when she was unsuspectedly handed a daddy long leg by her enthusiastic child may have orchestrated the shift.
Shortly after that little show, early one summer when she was just past the toddling about stage, the following exchange occurred when Anabelle finished eating and went outside to engage in the purest of all Up the Lake kid activities, “Wandering Aimlessly Around.”
It began with a blast of loud and frantic screaming from my child.
I exited the kitchen, quickly in full recognition of the scream that had no association with pain or danger, but rather a randomly happening reaction to a nearby creature.
She continued to scream and run in random directions about until I bellowed her name.
This caused her to stop, which is why I yelled like a maniac…to stop her before she fell.
Then we had the following conversation, her in panicked screams, me the voice of calm and reason…eroding about as quickly as one would expect.
Her- “A BUUUUG!”
Me - "It’s only an inchworm."
Anabelle - "It was flying at me!"
Me - "No it’s not flying; it’s hanging on a little web."
At this point, I grabbed it by its hang line, and placed it on my hand.
"See? It’s OK.”
Anabelle - "no No NO!"
Me- “Look, it can’t hurt you."
Anabelle- “Yes it can!"
Me- “No, it really can’t. Look at it.
It’s so small.
It’s sitting in my hand doing nothing.
They can’t bite, or scratch or sting or anything"
Anabelle - "They have Laser Beams!!!"
At this point, cousin Eric piped up from inside- “Did I hear what I think I heard?”
Have laser beams."
Anabelle - "Yes they do!"
Then Eric blew an entire sandwich out his nose.
Yes I do know this whole exchange was my fault...I have no idea how, but I am sure it was.
Her reactions tended to be highly variable. Earlier that same day she begged me to squish a caterpillar. I appealed to her sense of compassion by reminding her,
“Didn’t you just see the Wonder Pets save a cute little caterpillar?"
Her matter of fact reply,
“The wonder pets aren’t real...squish it”
Yet later on that day, and post what we’ll refer to as the inchworm incident, she saw a woolly bear caterpillar and decided cheerily,
"I'm going to let him go on his merry way."
I asked in mock concern,
“What about the laser beams?”
She looked at me like I was an idiot and said,
"He’s not an inchworm.”
Eventually, most of us adjusted, and learned tricks of the trade.
Millipedes were gross, but if you stepped on them they made a giant mess, and if you picked them up they make a stinky pee on your hand.
Daddy long legs were everywhere, but harmless.
Moths eventually hit the propane light if they got inside.
The giant buzzing things that landed on the screens at night and scared the bejeebers out of everyone had to be approached slowly with the raid can if you wanted to avoid asphyxiating everyone.
Beetles were giant, mostly kept to themselves and were seasonal. Late July to early August, the double decker matchbox car sized females dug out of the ground and stuck their egg laying pointy thing skywards.
(You can tell I was a joy in biology class.)
The smaller but still freakishly large males flew in sounding like a B-17 and steering like paralyzed armadillo in a rocket car. They’d smack the unwary square in the head en route to their earthbound lady love. The two would play piggy back ride a bit, then the male would trundle off again, usually into a post or something, while the female used her egg laying pointy thing to deposit the next generation underground.
My sister was teaching math in high school at the time, and videotaped some of the goings on for the biology teacher in her group. Lauren and I helped out a great deal.
She sang Barry White songs while I made “boum-chicka-boum” noises.
Hey, if you’re going to make insect pornography, you have to do it right.
I may have broken into songs related to other Beatles as well.