Putting your child on the bus and insect encounters

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It’s the second day of our daughter’s new career at the junior high here in Madison, and for the first time in ages, I was up and moving before it was technically light outside, getting her fed and ready for school.  It’s a nice morning to be up, all in all, though I have to say it would have been nicer for me if it had been raining, as then I wouldn’t have had to water everything for what must be the thousandth time this summer.  Rain would probably not have been nicer for my step-daughter, who caught the bus from our house for the first time, a source of much anxiety for me, as well as for her.  Though I have to say, at eleven, she’s much better at handling her anxiety than I am.

Riding the bus is the essence of an uncontrolled social situation, something to strike deep fear into the hearts of children and adults alike.  It’s like going to a party where you don’t know anyone.  Like, really, really don’t know anyone.  Like a party assembled by random digit dialing of numbers out of the phone book.  That kind of unpredictability.  As I watched our daughter wait on the corner across the street from the gaggle of other kids she doesn’t know, I felt all the anxiety that is the public school bus experience all over again.  It was good to know that at least when she got on the bus, her friend from down the street would be there.

The fact that it didn’t rain this morning and hadn’t rained last night, or the night before, or the night before that, etc., etc., didn’t mean that being outside to water wasn’t pleasant once you’re resigned to its inevitability.  There’s rain in the forecast, even a 60% chance tonight, but this summer, that doesn’t mean much.

This morning as I was watering my poblano pepper plant, I noticed a little brown twig which turned out to be a praying mantis.  I can’t remember having seen a brown praying mantis before, and he wasn’t blending in particularly well on my pepper plant, which is thankfully, still green.  It turns out that praying mantis can change colors when they moult and it would certainly make sense this summer to take on a brown color rather than a green one, given the state of most of the plants.

Less explicable were the pile of about 10 dead cicadas lined up between the boards of our back deck, most of them pointing with their heads downward and their back ends up in the air.  They hadn’t died of any trauma, and they’d died fairly recently, as only one of them had begun to be consumed by ants.  These were not the 17 year cicadas, which if I remember from last time, are more brown and orange.  These guys were more green.  They’re not the first I’ve seen around, but it was odd to see them all dead together like a little insect Jonestown.  Insects, especially praying mantis and cicada, are bizarre-looking, like alien species living mysteriously among us.

Our cats went out for a bit of garden time this morning, too, and they find the back yard fascinating and exciting like a jungle safari.  It’s good sometimes to try and emulate them, and remember all the amazing things that are just outside your back door.

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