14 June 2013

do you know what kinds of bugs these are? {a short summer story}

"Oh, honey, have you ever seen bugs like this before?" An older woman, shorter than I am, stood next to the curb, peering down.

I was on an evening walk with Little Pug, and we were just setting out, making our way across the condo development's parking lot and towards greener pastures, or at the very least, a sidewalk.

Miss Daisy was zipping back and forth wildly, testing the limits of her leash, but I like to think she was also expressing, in squat pug form, what I was feeling: IT'S SPRING! AND I'M OUTSIDE! AND THERE'S SUN! I HAVE NOTHING TO DO TONIGHT BUT BASK IN THAT SPRING SUN@

Pugs always think in all caps, by the way. They are an excitable, happy little bunch, despite how sad their faces look all the time.

We were just walking past the retention pond when the older woman stopped me and pointed down at the ground. "Oh, honey," she said, concern trickling through in her voice, "have you ever seen bugs like this before?"

I looked down at the ground, which was, in fact, moving. Hopping from hundreds of points—almost like popcorn seeds right before they pop. They jump around the pan a bit and then explode.

At least nothing was exploding, I told myself.

The ground may be carried away by theses bugs—or maybe they would become the ground. Maybe it was the beginning of a plague, a la Moses and the "let my people go, you mean old Egyptians" portion of the Bible—but at least nothing was exploding. That should be a reassuring fact, I told myself.

I leaned closer to the asphalt. Looking at the moving ground of bugs was a lot like looking at your TV screen when it's all staticky: Your eyes start to blur and even what's solid&Miss Daisy, for instance—starts to look jumpy.

But then it all came into focus, and I realized that those were most definitely not bugs: They were baby frogs, leaving their retention pond home for the first time to make their way in the big wide suburban world.

And I really mean baby: We're talking the size of your pinkie fingernail, assuming you're a petite girl like me. If you're not, I guess go with half the size of your pinkie fingernail and then imagine seeing an entire parking lot hopping with half-pinkie-nail-sized things.

Cute, yes.

Amazing how creation can be so perfect on the small scale, yes.

But a little creepy, too, and let's face it: my thoughts about the ten plagues sent to the Egyptians were rather prescient.

"Um, I don't think those are bugs, ma'am," I told the older woman. "They're frogs—that's why they're hopping."

"They're bugs that look like frogs?"

"No, just frogs. Not bugs at all."

"Do you think these are bugs that frogs will eat?"

Perhaps I wasn't being clear. I contemplated speaking louder, but that's what people in movies do when they want to be understood, and its only effect is comic.

"No, that would be cannibalism. These things that you think are bugs are actually frogs. If you lean closer, you can see that."

She looked at me as if I had asked her to do a backbend. "I'll just stay up here. I don't need to be that close to bugs."

I saw my helpful explanations weren't getting us anywhere, and I wasn't sure miming would help. But she was looking at me so earnestly, wanting to know if I was just as amazed as she was about these hopping bugs.

I gave in. "They certainly are something else. I've never seen anything like them, that's for sure."

"Ooh, your little dog just ate one! Do you think that's okay for her?"

I looked down at Miss Daisy, who was scootching her snub face closer and closer to her next froggy victim. My mind was suddenly filled with visions of frogs hopping around her GI tract, eventually bursting through her stomach. I did not like that vision at all.

"Um, sure she can eat bugs. She does it all the time, but still I think we should be on our way," I told the older woman as I scooped up Miss Daisy and carried her away from the frogs, away from the plague, and away from the confusion of a never steady ground.

1 comment:

  1. A plague story without a reference to Charlton Heston? I'm shocked! Nice story, well done.



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