Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beetle in Shock & Robert Frost

For too many days I've given my backyard over to the heat, the mosquitoes, and a bad mood about not getting to my real work of writing. But this morning the thermometer reads 72 degrees, offering hope. The air is cooler but the mosquitoes are relentless. So much for restoring my mood by sitting outside. I'll be driven in soon, with mosquito-slapping.

Still, the birds sing, the dogs bark, the crickets drone, the squirrels chase, the tiger swallow tails go on intoxicating themselves in the little white tube blossoms of the abelia bushes. A pine cone falls on me from the branch overhead. Whether dropped by a squirrel, or released by its branch, I know not, but it splattered, dry and brittle, on my head and arms. One of the broken pieces landed on the hem of my shirt and didn't fall away like the others. Turns out it's a small brown beetle clinging for its life to the stillness of my shirt, legs and antennae tucked under its hard dry shell, looking for all the world like a piece of pine cone, but not acting like one.

It must have been a terrifying free-fall for a beetle who thought he had found safe refuge in a pine cone far from the madding crowd. When I nudged him with my pencil his antennae and legs popped out as if to say, "What? Am I still alive?" After a moment he crawled away, but not before getting a reading from his wildly waving antennae about his new situation.

Magically, in the time it has taken to write this entry, the mosquitoes have gone away, slow breezes waft, and my bad mood has lifted. It brings to mind yesterday's NYT article about the negative side-effects of constant digital connection, and the energizing effects of a little time spent in nature.

Robert Frost wrote about it too:

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of day I had rued.


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