It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye... ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Terrible Thing

This is an admission of guilt and a sad tale of inattention.
I sometimes leave the big halogen light on at night when The Prospector is gone. It's up in the peak of the south garage wall. In the morning after the light has been on, there are thousands of flying insects on the wall and  window.... and on the rocks below.
There are moths, Lacewings, Dobsonflies, and beetles all exhausted from the activity of the night and flying into the light.
Given the nature of these insects, especially moths, the light absence at night makes them rest or hide. For that reason, when I turn on the strong light in the darkness, they think that it is daytime and they go to that heat source. They are especially attracted to the ultraviolet light emitted by the big light because they have radioactive cells that attract them toward the luminescent energy. The white light attracts these insects even more.
So, in the morning, they were all just quietly clinging to the wall. Some were so still that I was able to touch them without them moving or flying away.
Like this Giant Lacewing. Well, it's not really giant. It's only about an inch long but it's beautiful.
This beetle is called a Ten Lined June Beetle. I saw it on the screen and walked up to the window to take a closer look.
This is a beetle that I have seen before. You don't forget because of it's beautiful white stripes  and  the fact that there are so many of them around here in the summer. It's about 1 to 1 1/2 in. long and has a distinctive face.
They were everywhere.
In the planters, on the rocks and concrete...
As I stood next to the window taking pictures of this beetle, I heard a noise. It was a soft cry, almost a mewing sound. I thought that maybe Annibel was on the other side of the window in the garage trying to tell me that it was time to let her out. It was very early in the morning. I hadn't let her out yet.
I said, "Is that you Annie?" But there was no answer. I saw no movement of the blind on the window.
I listened again and realized that the sound was outside. It was somewhere near me but I couldn't tell where it was coming from.
I backed up and looked around me. This was the most unusual sound I had ever heard. It was almost a cough and it was so muted. I took another step away from the window and looked down at the rocks below my feet.... and my heart skipped a beat as the tragic scene unfolded before me..
In my fervor to take pictures of the beetle on the screen I had not thought about the beetles that might be elsewhere and I had accidentally stepped on one of them (the one on the right). It was dead.
This poor little beetle was still and its body was broken by my giant, monstrous sandal as I had recklessly walk over it without looking.
The sound was coming from the other beetle, on the left and it was crying . I can only say that to my mind, this small creature was crying. It appeared to be breathing heavily and moving up and down. I don't know if it was crying for its mate, or warning me that it was there, or telling me that I was the worst of all beings on earth and had, because of my human carelessness and incredible stupidity, killed one of its kind.
I cannot tell you how awful I felt.
This was the cry of fear and sadness that makes this creature as real and important as any human tragedy.  There will be a great sadness inside of me for a long time.
I walked back into the house and told the dogs what had happened. They didn't seem to care,.
So, I tell you... because I had to tell someone.
***************
The next morning all the insects were gone. Only the one I had stepped on was still there, lying on the rocks. I picked it up and brought it inside.
I have it's broken body sitting on my computer. It's still beautiful. It looks like nothing happen to it... only it doesn't move and one of it's antennae is missing.
I'm so sad about this. It seems such a little thing, but I will hear that other beetle's cry forever. Don't tell me that the tiny creatures of this world don't have emotions and feelings. My carelessness caused an unintentional death.
I wasn't talking on a cell phone while driving.
I didn't step on the accelerator instead of the brake.
I didn't forget my child in a hot car or run a red light.
No, I just didn't watch where I was walking.
To some this isn't the end of the world.
To some... this isn't even a tragedy.
It was just a bug....
But, I had to tell someone.






14 comments:

Brian Miller said...

confession is good for the soul...mourning the loss of any thing is a compassionate soul...so sad the one was crying...

Jody said...

you are a good person, a shepherd of the natural world. You noticed. This is the thing of importance. It's the gift. Try not to be so hard on yourself.

Joan said...

I agree with Brian...compassionate soul. I hit a cat once. I still see her so clearly, trying to run away from my tires. It was awful...

Heidi Ann said...

Oh, I believe I may have felt the very same way. To have heard the other one crying like that is so sad. One week ago, as I came out to my car in the driveway, a man who was driving by hit a little dog that walked out into the road. He wasn't going too fast, and it was not his fault. He was a nice man - he stopped. The dog belonged to some friends who were visiting my neighbor. Their daughter had just let him loose for a minute. It was so horrible I don't even want to think about it again.
All I really meant to say was that I understand, I really do.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

At least you are aware of the goings ons of all creatures great and small and this truth should count for something. I don't know of this sound but can well imagine how sad it made you feel.

Suz said...

I loved every word you wrote, because I would feel the same way
Those are beautiful beetles
and I believe you that it cried out..you are a good good soul
for the least of these
hug.....

Diana said...

What a sweet soul you are, Connie. I love seeing your world of nature's creatures......both large and small....and even tiny.
Hugs
Diana

thecrazysheeplady said...

I believe.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I'm so sorry. What a sad thing to have to move through the day with. I would have felt the same, but perhaps it was alerting the others to its circumstances and wasn't a cry but just communication. Perhaps insects don't feel attached to mortal life the way we seem to be.

It does make one more aware, though, of the tenderness with which we should move through life. It's a lesson I will take with me and I thank you for that. Maybe we needed to read this and understand a bit more.

I swear, insects rule this world. They are so beautiful, and numerous!

Paxie said...

I understand how you are feeling and can empathize totally. When they become "real" it hurts as if it were a human being. I get it.

I hadn't hurt anything, but was sitting near where my one hummingbird comes and she "chirped". It was the tiniest noise, but a definite chirp...to tell me to MOVE!"

You are wonderful...you know that?

Jan Ely said...

I do believe your sweet, sensitive heart just blogged this bug's soul up to heaven.

Tina Dawn said...

I am so sorry this happened. It reminded me of when one of my parakeets, Surfer, was very sick, it was my son's bird and had seizures or fits and would cry and thrash around. We finally had to put him to sleep. We also had another budgie, Calypso, who was getting rather old, at least 14 years old at this time. He was very upset by Surfer's illness and you could see the distress in his eyes. I would sometimes let him into Surfer's cage so that he could be nearer to him and perhaps ease his suffering. My husband thought I was nuts. I know animals, bugs, salamanders, feel too, differently than we do, but just as much in their own way. Love T

Whosyergurl said...

Connie,
I think bugs are beautiful too.

Have you ever heard a chicken sing? My chickens sing and purr.

xo, Cheryl

susanc said...

I would have felt the same way Connie. All living things are precious. Hope you're feeling better today. xxx