All Creatures Great and Small?… I Guess

August is more than halfway over. Here in Anchorage summer has already conceded defeat to this in-between drippy season that is a sort of pre-autumn. I love it, as I do most weather. My mom is like that too — perhaps it is from her that I’ve taken this attitude. It doesn’t matter what is going on outside; everything has its own merits and it is all worthy of awe. Mind you, I’m overjoyed that I no longer experience the many many months of humidly hot days that are Oklahoma summers. But even a few days of that should be taken in every once in a while.

My semi-subterranean home has once again become a refugee camp for anything small enough to find a way in and away from the cooling temperatures and the wet. I don’t mind sharing my home with these tiny animals. Mosquitoes are not welcome, and I’m afraid are dealt with harshly. Flies are relentlessly shooed and may also be dealt with if they don’t take my hints that they’ve overstayed their welcome (which is quite short anyway). Beyond that, I don’t give trouble to anything that gives me none.

I was chasing flies around the bathroom, swatting them in the general direction of the open window, hoping they’d move along, when I noticed that this year has not brought a single insect in so much as pairs. It is as if the insect & spider community is sending delegates and are only individually represented. For days there has been a seemingly dumbfounded ant scooting his too big body in and out of the spaces just under the cabinets, always at times that are inconvenient for me to capture and release him outside. As far back as I can remember into my childhood, I’ve wondered about these individuals, about the lives they’ve lead until now. I was initially worried that this was a queen looking for a spot to start a new colony (oh, please! not my little bathroom!), but I think it is just a wayward member of a colony from the flower bed just beyond my porch.

Chances are very great that any ant won’t live long anyway. My house is host to a variety of harvesters and spiders all ready to prey on the other refugees. Spiders are amazing. Even at the times I believe my home is free of all crawly things, I’ll see one appear from nowhere and scuttle off to an again unknown place. This is again one of those instances when the ‘live and let live’ rule applies for me. In my book spiders are good. In a basement environment, the lack of more insects is likely thanks to the arachnid guardians who have set up snares at the entrances. I thank them.

All of this makes it sound as if my home is crawling with critters. Just the thought of that gives me chills. It isn’t like that. Anything that dares leave the sanctuaries of the laundry room or bathroom quickly becomes a brief plaything for the kitties, and then a light snack. Even in those relatively safe places, the insects and spiders have to be fairly clever at hiding. Bothering me definitely includes making yourself too well known. If a garden beetles plops himself in the middle of the bathroom floor, he’ll be excused onto the porch where sadly I’ll leave him to his fate.

But really, I like knowing that the world is alive around me. While it makes me feel increasingly small, it also makes me feel more connected to the world somehow. And allowing benign ecosystems to form in darkest corners of my basement apartment makes me feel a little bit benevolent.