An Alaskan in Alabama (continued)

September
I am not a fan of bugs: bugs of any size, especially not large bugs; for example, the giant brown bug that makes a skittery, solid sound as it pounds against the glass sides of the jar that I’m using to transfer it from my apartment to the great outdoors. This is another potential challenge to my presence here in Alabama, for the bugs, like everything else in Alabama (except, strangely, the squirrels), are huge.

For instance, there are giant red wasps that buzz around the building and seem to have found a home in the rotten wood underneath the drains on my unromantic little patio. And there are the cockroaches that have somehow found their way into my apartment. I caught the first one and put it outside: not because I am tender-hearted about cockroaches, but because I didn’t have a squishing tool that I wished to sacrifice to cockroach guts. I thought the second one I saw was dead, as it was lying feet up, but when I touched it with a paper towel, preparing to put it in the trash, it jumped up and gave me a horrible fright, so I put it outside. Then there was another one with its legs up, like the second one—had the cats got to it? I had forgotten, until my hand hovered over it, that it might be alive. My response, I’m afraid, was to quickly squash it.

Recently, cleaning near the litter box, there is another roach. I jammed the catching jar over it so quickly that I think I took off a leg. I carried it outside, to the farthest portion of the lawn, and left it there, catching jar and all, and ran for the light of the front door, up the creaking steps, and back into my apartment. The penultimate moment of shudder was on a peaceful Sunday: laundry day. I had made up the bed earlier with the clean sheets, drawing the covers over the pillow. As bedtime approached, I drew back the covers. There it was, a huge cockroach, right on my pretty flowered, freshly-laundered, pillowcase. I grabbed my catching jar, jammed it over the cockroach, spirited it outside, and tossed it in the direction of the closest set of obnoxious neighbors (not nice, I know), then raced inside to change my pillowcase.

Yes, I know there are bugs out there that are helpful and I try to be gentle to them; I catch and release spiders, I aid stranded butterflies and ladybugs, and I’ve even been known to use leaves to move dragonflies and bees that might get smushed on the sidewalk, but I’m just not into bugs. In Alaska my siblings and I had a chant that we’d gleefully repeat as fall neared—“die, bug, die; die, bug, die.” After all, we’d spent the last few scant months of good Alaskan weather—look, it’s not 20 below with black ice!—covered by swarms of mosquitoes and no-see-ums whenever we ventured far from the breeze of the coast, so we had a bit of a vendetta against any flying/swarming/buzzing thing. I’m afraid this prejudice remains.

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