A couple weeks ago the gray curtain of clouds pulled aside to revel a fiery yellow ball in the sky, center stage. The boys and I, drawn by its warmth and light, gravitated to the great outdoors. The boys dusted off their bikes and I made a killer figure eight chalk road on the concrete pad in front of our garage. I added one way streets, a highway for speedy travel, parking spaces, and a cat crossing sign near a trip-trap troll bridge.
While the boys rode bikes I put on my gardening gloves to start the yearly snipping of the fern fronds. It is kind of like the yearly running of the bulls in Spain except I am not in Spain nor am I running and the bulls are really ferns. It is a very Zen-like task but it takes weeks because we have at least fifty huge sword ferns surrounding our house and I have very little time to tend to them. By the time the last fern has been defronded it is less Zen-like and more Edward Scissorhands-like. But since these were the first ferns of the season it was all Zen.
Soon I had two big piles of fronds on our lawn. About this time the boys decided to come see what I was doing. They each took a handful of the green fronds to attach to their bikes making flags and street sweepers. I don’t know when it happened but at some point in my Zen master fern frond cutting I noticed that the general ruckus making noises that always accompany my boys had stopped. I looked up from my fern and saw the boys sitting in the grass. Cody was holding something in his hand and both of them were looking very intently at it.
And that is how The Jar of Death, as Husband and I so fondly call it, came into our house. I did not have time to properly morn its first victim although I will take the majority of the responsibility for his death. There were overly eager little hands holding him while I fumbled around in the garage looking for the perfect jar. Then I had to spend more time looking for a nail and a hammer. The bug was looking a bit worn out from all the manhandling and I still had no hammer so in an act of desperation I used our ice cream scoop to pound the nails in the lid and make air holes. Then there was grass to collect, a leaf or two, and a small twig before the jar passed the two boy inspection.
The second bug’s story has a happy ending. In this story I became a rather unexpected hero for having on hand some slightly off lettuce in the fridge with which to feed him. Whoever said not cleaning out the crisper drawer didn’t pay off? Cody was so excited about his new bug that he asked if he could take it to school and show his friends. He has never asked to bring anything to school so I was eager to make this happen for him. We researched his bug (did you know that pill bugs are the only crustacean that spend their entire life on land?) and emailed his teacher to get her permission.
The bug, who never received a name, lived for six days in The Jar of Death on Cody’s nightstand. In the evening we would put the jar on the floor so it would not be confused with his water bottle. In the morning the bug received four squirts of fresh water and every other day some more slightly wilted and rapidly browning lettuce. On the sixth day he was released back into the wild, i.e., our front yard.
So perhaps the title that Husband and I decreed upon the jar is a little unfair. So far the score is:
The Bugs: 1
The Jar of Death: 1