Critter Season

Dusk was rapidly approaching as the outdoors portion of our evening was coming to a close.  The kids were putting the finishing touches on their layers of dirt from head to foot, happy to have been spending hours playing outside.  We had been working on Katrina’s flower beds pulling weeds and adding dirt, and I had relinquished my role on the work crew for a more relaxed position a few feet away; manning the porch swing.

Just as I was getting settled into my new perch, Joshua rounded the corner of the flower bed and with the passion of a banty rooster crowed, “Daddy, there’s a crab over here!”  For a brief moment I was skeptical of the crustacean he had discovered at our beach home on our Arkansas hillside, but as the information soaked into my brain a light came on.

I reluctantly gave up my comfort zone where I had been hovering above the porch and wandered over to where Joshua was now drawing a small crowd (easily obtainable at our house).  I looked down to where he was pointing, and sure as the world there was his crab—a three inch long scorpion, just as I had envisioned it in my mind when the light came on.

Having had multiple experiences with these creepy crawlers over the past few years, we normally would have scooped him up in a jar for a viewing extravaganza, but we opted for the open arena of our concrete sidewalk instead.  We poked and prodded him a little, keeping our safe distance as he scurried around in circles.  I explained to Joshua that this was not a crab at all, but was instead a scorpion, and pointed out the stinging tail that he wielded.  After the excitement wore off I grabbed the nearest garden implement and brought him to a quick demise.

Critters are a way of life for us, especially as the days get longer and warmer.  God sure had a vivid imagination as well as a sense of humor when He created all of the creepy crawly varmints that wander around our place and everywhere else on the planet.  I’ve had the kids ask me many times over the years (and I’ve had the same curiosity) why on earth God made this or that.  I’m sure there’s a nest of entomologists somewhere that can explain what every bug’s purpose is and how many millions of years it took them to evolve to that level.  Perhaps some of them need to grasp the concept that God created everything fully evolved, and that it was not as long ago as many of them would lead you to believe.

Raking leaves is a year round chore at our house.  God continues to provide a plentiful supply each year, and with our large population of trees they are difficult to keep up with.  Joshua and I were doing just that last weekend, raking leaves to the edge of our gravel driveway and burning them.  As we raked, the critters scurried, and the most plentiful varmint of the day happened to be the brown snake, three of them.   Now I’m not sure exactly what kind of snakes they were, but without hesitation I sent Joshua after the shovel and we brought their evolution to a standstill.

Another resident of our hill, bagworms, seem to be a big hit with our kids.  For some reason, perhaps because of the taste they have for certain leaves, the bagworms always seem to return to our wild cherry tree each year.  Before the leaves even get much of a chance to mature on the tree, the worms build a large web, or “bag”, on the branches.

Just this past week the worms, or caterpillars, began roaming from their web and onto our front porch.  This invoked a natural chain reaction in the kids, causing them to begin gathering the caterpillars in buckets as if they were manna from heaven and their life depended on it.  I believe they did actually use a few of them to feed the frog that Joshua had in his room.  Perhaps the frog would have felt more at home near his relatives, which resided in the bucket we proudly possessed right inside our back door, which was swimmingly full of tadpoles.

One of the larger mysteries to me is why God created all of those really pesky bugs in the first place.  You know the ones.  Mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, and wasps sure come to mind, just to name a few.  We generally have our fair share of those around here, and I find myself asking God all the time what that’s all about.  I’ve not received an answer yet.

Horseflies sure inflict their fair share of grief on me when I’m out and about.  When things really heat up outside it only takes me stepping ten feet from the house in any direction to set off the county-wide horsefly alarm.  If there is a horsefly within a half mile radius of me it shows up immediately, ready to drive me crazy as it dive bombs my head.  There must be something that they especially like about me, because if Katrina and I are out for a walk, they care nothing about her, only me.  Either I’m sweeter than she is or they can just sense a sweaty mule when they smell one—probably the latter.

As the kids enjoy their bug season this year, gathering caterpillars, rollie pollies, ladybugs, and a plethora of “nice” bugs, I suppose we’ll do our best to swat off all of the rest of those annoying arthropods and continue to wonder what God was thinking.  I’m going to do my best to remember to ask Him when I get to heaven.

Then again, I probably won’t care when I get there.

Written by David Steen, with God smiling, April 18, 2010

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