The Art of Walking and the Unknown Bug


After eating a good supper last night, I decided to walk a bit to burn calories and to have a good look around at the post-Irenic devastation of our land. (I’m leading with understatement.)

The trek to the market from my house is around 2.5 miles, so it makes a pretty good workout on a rest day. For a guy of my age and my eating habits, I have to exercise away a lot of calories just to break even, and normally I am semi-psycho at the gym, but this walk provided a good cap of a weekend spent lolling around the house waiting for the winds to subside.

The first thing I noticed was not how much my immediate neighborhood got spared. A few trees were downed, some areas were flooded. More than few neighbors were shop vaccing their basements. More than quite a few were without power. Nope — I could not help but observe how beautiful a work of natural art it is to experience the outrush of a hurricane met with the influx of a cool high-pressure system. Whether the work of God or Mother Nature or a collaboration, the only word utterable during my sojourn was bravo.

And now about the bugs. Hurricanes seem to bring with them not only high winds, ridiculous rainfall and ample danger, but a helluva lotta bugs too. An untold number of pest species abound and Irene, as with other hurricanes I have experienced, carried a few them in her unyielding blows. First, hurricane bugs often come in bewildered and out of place. The next question is where do they come from? I used to believe that they came from way down south — Florida, the Caribbean, and the Carolinas — dislodged by Category 2s, 3s and 4s, magically and mystically carried on the stratosphere to our cold northern habitats, but now I suspect something a little less stupendous. These bugs probably hail from the swamps and creeks and protected natural areas of the state. Since New Jersey is a essentially a swamp papered over with McMansions and ghettoes, there are a lot of bugs out there just waiting to blow in. And since mankind is aware of only a sliver of the species on this planet, every time a major warm storm comes in from the south, it empties the forest of thousands of swamp critters — representatives of bug-kinds we’ve never seen before. I would image that entomologists have a sort of field day during hurricanes or tropical storms chasing bugs. During my stroll a strange fly — more like a miniature donkey than a horse — perched on my arm momentarily bug-eyed and surprised after a gust. It didn’t bite me, because I think it was in a kind of shock. Imagine the Great Wind from a bug’s perspective and you’ll see more than the hand of God active in such a momentous event. Next let’s actually imagine that we control over the forces of nature and we can sit comfortably back in our recliners and count the drippings from the ceiling.

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About Pete Mladineo


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