Wednesday, May 11, 2011

#5 - Does it Sting?

After many years of going to our land as we prepare for early "retirement" from the Greater Houston area, I have come across a few strange looking bugs and creatures on our land.

With my little digital camera kept nearby, I try to capture shots of these close encounters, but I often have no clue as to what I am photographing. I just hope to not be stung or bitten. As a Texas gal, I do recognize a poisonous snake, but the rest is out my realm because I only have experience as a city business-woman.

Since I love to write, I find time to sit on our land and hand-write a few pages in my journal. I have found this to be an especially rewarding time to write and to bare my soul on the pages of a blank notebook. However, this past April, I was writing and felt something against the underside of my arm. I stood up in a hurry and began to do a quick inspection of my body because I KNEW something was creeping around ON me. After a few seconds, I nearly gave up, but suddenly I found the little caterpillar-like wormy thing and it was crawling up the side of my dress. I stood there staring at it. It kind of looked like a piece of a tiny twig. Actually, at first I really did think it was just a piece of a stick attached to my clothes, but after I tried a couple of times to brush it off and it didn't budge, I realized it was something ALIVE and ATTACHED to me.

After a couple more swipes, it occurred to me...this thing might be able to sting me! Could this be an asp? What does as asp look like? Why would something be given a name like "ASP?" I kept running jumbled insect facts through my head, facts that were severely lacking. Isn't an asp kind of hairy? This looks sort of like a catepillar, but it doesn't have a mile's worth of little nubby legs. So, I decided to quit trying to knock it off my dress with my bare hand. I pulled my dress away from my body, just in case it had powerful stinging ability that could penetrate the fibers of cloth, and I began to think like MacGyver.

Trying not to panic, I grabbed my pen firmly as a pry-the-bug-off-of-me-tool and held my journal outward to catch the bugger. I wanted it OFF of me and my low-budget sun dress (appropriate for our land), but I didn't want to hurt it. Eventually, I flicked it onto my open journal. Once there, it began to make its escape. This is when the kid in me began to emerge. Each time the worm neared the edge of the page, I felt compelled to use my pen to turn it around so it would have to re-cross the page. Over and over I did this with fascination. The bug should have felt honored; I was mesmerized and since it had come for an unannounced visit, it would have to stay for a while longer. Besides, I had now time-traveled backward to about 10 years of age and was in "Finders Keepers" mode.

It was amazing. It moved like an inch-worm and appeared to have the faintest specks at one end that I thought were yellow "eyes." Who knows? Certainly not me. But, I still had a duty to inspect.

My little attachment.
Now I'm feeling a little defensive about my obsession with this creature. This is abnormal behavior for me, this is not in my comfort zone. I'm a woman who understands paperwork, deadlines, files and meetings in a conference room for closings. I do not "get" the world of bugs and nature, yet I'm captivated. I keep trying. I LOVE nature and crave it; I am making massive life changes in order to leave my file cabinet world behind, but the bug part of nature is another hurdle that I constantly try to conquer. It might take me a while.

In another encounter, I had been wanting the lonely pot for plants on our acreage to be graced with flowers, so I was digging a hole in the pot to plant a bulb. As I dug, this slithering creature came bursting up through the dirt and he skittered to the edge of the pot. I stood there in awe at the rainbow of deep colors that ran in lines down its odd body. I was mesmerized. At first, when I initially saw his head, I thought it was a weird snake, then the rest of its body appeared and it looked like a lizard. But, I sure as heck have never seen a lizard that looks like this! Maybe it's a skink? A skink, I think?

As the colorful, odd snake-lizard stayed in place on the pot, I carefully reached over for my camera and began taking pictures. But, no one knows what this little treasure actually is.

The potted planter surprise.
After we've been on our land for a weekend visit, we return to our home near the bay, just on the outskirts of Houston and I feel suddenly bored. I'm back to my little front and back yards, which leaves little room for exploration. I'm a 42 year old kid stuck in suburbia. All of our obligations tied to city-life are not going to disappear overnight, so we keep working toward the day when we can be on our acreage full-time. Until then, we continue to learn about nature, and we are delighted to find such strange company in our midst. Well, we are delighted about these introductions as long as we are not bitten or stung or too traumatized by their sudden appearances.

I must say, for people who think being in the country is boring...they are simply wrong. Once upon a time, I had been one of these "wrong" people. Thank God I am now on the "right" side of the opinion. It's so nice to be "right." ha ha.

If I were in Greater Houston, resting inside my peaceful house and tucked inside my neighborhood association patrolled streets, I'd likely be journaling and enjoy the freedom from unwanted interruptions. Except for those irritating door to door solicitors which I often greet with my 38 in hand. But, I wander...when I sit on the land with my journal and end up with crawling creatures attached to my clothes, it's not exactly a boring moment. Let's be honest. City people claim it is too "boring" simply because the country is too terrifying. It's too unpredictable and misunderstood. It's not in our comfort zone. City people, I plead guilty as charged, love to sit in their tightly built homes with their can of Raid in an accessible location.

I can understand this need to control our environment, I really can. In fact, I own several cans of Raid and am not afraid to use them, but I'm trying to let the land teach me important lessons about how Raid is virtually ineffective on near 10 acreas of land.

Sadly, I didn't need Raid to kill my little stick-creature-friend. I got a jar, filled it with leaves and such, then brought it home so that I could study it. My plan didn't work. My study went awry. A spritz of Raid on the little guy would've put him out of his misery faster because my efforts to create a "fake" forest in a jar for him did not make him happy. One morning, I looked in the jar and found him at the bottom, dead. His inch-worm body had come to a dead halt. The good thing is...I vowed to work harder to not revert back to being a child who wants to keep "her" bugs in a jar.

I made a little half-hearted promise to not do this again. Maybe. At least, I'll try very hard to refrain from such destructive curiosity. Actually, I take it back. I make no promises at all.


dbc2341 said...

Baby, you do not have or own a 38 speicial. You have a 357mag. Yes it is a Skink.

Lana C. said...

Thanks for letting me know what I'm packing...I understood the main idea of point and shoot. I should understand the difference between a 38 or 357, on the other hand, you know I was always terrible in math!! Ha ha.