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The Bugs of Summer

A few summers back, I was going through a particularly difficult period. Everything seemed to be going wrong on so many levels. The weather was miserable. My health wasn't too great. Friends and family were in distress over other life problems.

On one hot, humid, sticky, and terribly cloudy day that summer, I walked down my block, a bit disheartened by this state of affairs. For one brief moment, I looked up at the sky and saw the most elegant Monarch butterfly. And for that one moment, a feeling of total relaxation came over me. A world with that kind of beauty, I reasoned, will allow for all these difficulties to pass.

And in that instant ... I kid you not ... a bird flew by, grabbed the Monarch in its beak, and flew off.

I looked up at the sky again. Shook my head in disbelief. And couldn't help but chuckle. It was as if the gods had sent me a message: "Life really is that dismal, Chris, and you'll get no relief today!"

But it all came to pass. And several consecutive summers with lousy weather have given way to one of the most glorious summers in New York City that we've had in recent years.

I love the summer.

Now, in its waning days, I have a slight sense of melancholy, which is tempered only by the still-warm temperatures in the still-Baking Apple. They'll reach 84 degrees today, and the 80s throughout the rest of this week.

One of the things I'll most miss about summer, however, are the bugs. The insects. Flying. Crawling. Creeping. They are a perennial sign of life. And this summer in the city was like the classic summers of old. Bugs that were not too plentiful in recent years seem to have come back in droves. Maybe it was the weather.

June into early July started out with the biggest burst of fireflies ("lightning bugs") that I've ever seen in my entire life while living here in Brooklyn. So sparkling was the nightly display that the front lawns and backyards of my neighborhood looked as if it were Christmas in July. Mating insects never seemed so sexy.

The fireflies eventually went away ... only to be replaced by hordes of various kinds of butterflies. There were even more Monarch butterflies this summer. One afternoon, two Monarchs were fluttering around one another in a spiral; I followed their dance for almost the length of my entire block, my dog Blondie in tow. I'm sure they found romance beyond my field of vision. At least there were no birds descending this time 'round!

I've had a Beetle land in my hair, a Ladybug land on my hand, a Jurassic-sized Dragonfly (or "Dining Needle") land bingo on my beach blanket. I've marveled at athletic grasshoppers and diligent ants. In fact, as my aging dog's diet has changed, I had all this leftover Fit and Trim. I chopped it into a fine substance, and dumped it on the borders of sand and grass at Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn. When I came back the following week, I saw that the ants had made a hotel out of it ... the kind of hotel that you could eat if you got tired of living there!

As July literally melted into the "Dog Days of August," the Cicadas arrived like clockwork for their annual appearance. In unison, they sing, though their melody sounds more like a sprawling sprinkler system, reverberating for miles around, reassuring us that they'll hold off the Fall for as long as they can.

September is here. Their sounds are almost gone.

And I confess that I'll miss the sounds and sights of the Bugs of Summer.

But there are Sounds and Sights of Autumn too.

Soon the Boys of Summer will be gearing up for the Fall Classic. For me, the crack of the October bat is as musical as the nightly chorus of crickets still serenading us (they'll stick around for quite a while yet...).

Do not ask me about the Yankees' chances; I'm having periodic nervous breakdowns with this team all season! But that's part of the summer too! At least these Damn Yankees (who have adopted the phrase "Grind It" as their mantra) are giving us a fun run in the final weeks of the regular season (Bubba Crosby's walk-off home run last night was terrific).

So here's to the Summer of 2005 ... you and your bugs were nice to be around.

Comments welcome.


Speaking of baseball, weren't you going to post some pix from your recent tour of The Stadium?

Yes, sir! It's coming up ... but since I've decided to post the photos as part of a "photo essay," it will be featured at the end of the season. Which means: Either as the postscript to the end of the Yankees' season. Or a preview to the postseason. :)

NICE PHOTOS! STAY TUNED!!! Probably around the beginning of October. :)

Shows what *I* know about NYC. Been there several times for sightseeing, plays, etc, and discovered many variations of wolves and carnivores. And I don't mean in TMONH.

But, in that cement jungle (especially in Brooklyn?)...'bugs'?

I need to travel more, I guess.


John!!! Not only that... we have plenty of wonderful birds too! I go and feed the ducks and the geese a few blocks from here. I visit the swan in Sheepshead Bay, the seagulls at the beach, and the Green Monk Parrots by Brooklyn College.

You just need to come to Brooklyn. We've got parks and lakes and beaches, and nature trails, and bike paths. And in addition to the birds and the bees, we've got great pizza. :)

We've had a banner year for bugs here, too. In fact, if one goes outside, the predominant sound will either be crickets and cicadas, or the drone of flies -- as long as the farmers aren't afield, that is.

Thanks for sharing your lovely musings with us.
Warm sssssqueezessssssssssssss from your reptilian friend --

Ah, you might have felt a little better if you had known that the bird which grabbed the Monarch butterfly was going to have a bad stomach day - Monarch is poisonous!

Thanks Sunni, Hong.

As for the poisonous Monarch... :)

I don't know if we can truly apply the concept of "justice" to the natural world of "survival of the fittest"... and I don't know if this falls into the category of poetic justice or just plain ol' irony... but now you've got me feeling bad for the bird! LOL

It might be that I'm paying less attention than I used to, but I get the impression that the insect population has declined around my neck of the woods in recent years. When I was a kid I recall seeing many ladybirds (what Americans call ladybugs), butterflies and grasshoppers around our garden. This year I've seen one ladybird, one or maybe two butterflies, and a bunch of grasshoppers a few days ago apparently fighting over one particular spot of soil in my garden. (I can only assume that, in grasshopper terms, it's particularly cushy spot!) Damn spiders get everywhere though!

Hey, Matthew, those spiders are supposed to keep the rest of the bugs in check! :)

My sister actually was wondering, however, how it is that every so often she finds a spider showing up in her car. It's rather surprising when you're driving and a white spider comes crawling down your rear-view mirror.