A mosquito bites our younger twenty-something daughter on the face as she sits out in the yard with her cat and decompresses. She works as a nurse at a hospital this summer, and the bite is truly the least of her stresses. What really bugs her she can’t talk about. Patients. I ask her if she thinks I could do what she’s doing. No way, she says. “You would get way too caught up in the meaning and not get anything done. You couldn’t keep up. You would protest and walk out before you got ten minutes in.”
She swats at another mosquito and goes inside having just succinctly and beautifully described why her generation is coming into power now. Metamorphosis before my eyes. The nymphs have hatched. The face of America is changing. Boomers are too easily bugged.
But there sure are a lot of bugs to be bugged by now. I slap the kitchen countertop and then myself. That’s me in the garden waving wildly as I weed. I’ve been snatching at seemingly nothing all week, blowing specks from my nostrils and scratching mercilessly. Bees hover at the salal and blueberry bushes, dragonflies and bats feast on mosquitoes over the still-not-ripe strawberry patch, and even the State of Washington has chosen our road for an official government insect trap. Which, I admit, I was very suspicious of at first, in keeping with my generational stereotype. Like, what in the hell? I check it out on the internet.
Inside the bright green cardboard box is a dark string coated with a sex pheromone that specifically lures the male gypsy moth into the box which has a sticky interior surface. It’s the gypsy moth caterpillars that eat the trees, and in Illinois this month airplanes flew over 11,000 acres dropping pheromone flakes which aren’t toxic but confuse the mating. I hope it doesn’t come to that here. Let the monitoring begin. I guess.
A bee stings our twenty-year-old son as he helps with the chicken fencing. “Hey,” he says, “I think a bee just stung me. Yeah, it got me.” We are all impressed with his casual acceptance of the pain. I would have been outraged. I wonder if he is enlightened. Maybe he’s another species. He works his way through six gates, which are becoming more focal points as we hem ourselves in.
The dog wakes up and snaps at a fly. She stands, stretches, then looks baffled on the other side of the wire with no way out. She’s 70 in people years. I feel her pain.
The Bearded One and I encounter our neighbors, a family with 3 young children, walking on the road on their way back from another neighbor’s garage sale. Hansel and Gretel, ages 7 and 5, and their little brother, age 3, who approaches us firing two stick guns (as in twigs from a tree…), each with a barrel, a grip, and a bit of a trigger. “Pow, pow-pow.” This is archetypal behavior for 3-year-old boys and none of us is the least bit alarmed or concerned. His beautiful, young 32-year-old mom laughs and shrugs and I tell her how I admire her for requiring him to make his own guns.
Gretel plays with a bottle of perfume just purchased at the garage sale. Giorgio Armani. She’s waiving the bugs away with it. When she drops it, and the bottle shatters, I am stricken. “Oh, no!” I wail and offer to buy her another one at the garage sale — was there one? No. I gnash my teeth. I blame the bugs. The Bearded One has an elevator flashback from Dallas two decades ago, trapped in a box with too much pheromone. Way too much. The perfume smell is overwhelming.
Hansel flaps his two new stuffed animals to relieve the stench. Gretel is quiet, but she doesn’t cry. Her mommy comforts her and her tall, athletic daddy brushes the glass off to the side of the perfumed road. The younger generations are not easily bugged. I feel hopeful, but still wonder if gypsy moths like Giorgio Armani.