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Seeing Spots Before My Eyes

by Roberta McReynolds

 

The first year I discovered the strange-looking bugs crawling up the stucco surface of my garage, my thoughts turned to assaulting them with a can of insecticide. The black creatures had segmented, flexible bodies ending in a point and were freckled with dull orange. Whatever the unattractive multi-legged invaders were, I was certain I wanted them gone.

Typical of my lack of focus, the simple act of striding up the sidewalk and through my front door erased all thoughts of eradicating the pests. I’ve learned that with increasing regularity, unless I write myself a memo, the chances I’ll accomplish a desired task is frustratingly slim. This is compounded by the fact that I also rarely remember to keep a pencil and notepad in my pocket.

The bug spray remained untouched on a shelf inside the garage, while the bugs continued to cling safely to the outside of the very same wall. Day after day, I walked past them to bring in the mail or water plants. Each time they were promptly forgotten before I could inflict harm. Do you suppose insects have guardian angels?

I eventually noticed these bugs never seemed to move. I went so far as to select one and memorize its location. It always stayed rooted in exactly the same place. My motivation to rid my territory of ugly bugs began to be replaced by a reserved curiosity. I peered closer at the tiny bodies and was certain, even allowing for my forgetfulness, that they originally were more black than orange. Now they appeared to be the reverse, although it didn’t improve upon their appearance.

One of my daily visits to the infested area was rewarded as the mystery army revealed its true nature. Adjusting bifocals on my nose, I looked closely at the unexpected metamorphosis taking place. The strange bodies were splitting open, beginning at the head, revealing a much more familiar shiny, bright orange round shell decorated with perfect black polka-dots. Ladybugs were emerging by the dozens!

They left behind the dried skins of their larval existence and hungrily scattered across my yard looking to breakfast on aphids. I cringed to think of the crime I nearly committed on these garden helpers. Watching where I placed my big feet, I focused on stepping over the beetles crawling away from the garage wall and across my path. I even cautioned other human visitors to do the same, pointing out the wonder of the Ladybugs making their pilgrimage.

One colorful bug suddenly takes flight and lands on the front of my blouse. Perhaps it is as nearsighted as I am, mistaking me for a rose bush. This beetle rests nearly in the exact spot my mother used to attach a metal Ladybug pin to my clothing when I was beginning school. She thought it would make a good conversation piece for her extremely shy daughter. The pin looked so real that children and adults were both fooled, commenting that a Ladybug "liked me."

A hint of a smile would touch the corners of my mouth as I whispered, "It’s not real. It’s a pin." Admiring compliments helped me feel comfortable in strange surroundings and new friends were won. I wore that pin so often the enamel paint began to wear off, causing my mother to resort to repainting its wings several times. It is now tucked away in my jewelry box with other trinkets and memories.

The real Ladybug on my blouse has decided I am not infested with aphids, thank goodness, and flies off in a quest for nourishment. I check myself for other hitchhikers before entering the house, cautiously placing my feet between those pretty red-orange dots on the walkway.

I’ve decided that the little creatures must have a guardian angel after all. She may wear bifocals, size nine shoes, and be terribly absent-minded, but each year the little black larvae will receive the promise of her protection.

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