Tales from
the Loir

A Weekly Column

July 3, 2002 - Bugs

I saw a mouse in the cave today. He scampered under the sink to hide but I can feel him watching me as I type out these notes. In reality there are very few animal problems with cave life. We have flies in the summer and spiders year round. The spiders are not a problem. When we first moved into the cave, I vacuumed all the spiders and webs off the walls and ceiling. They were all back within a week. I have decided to make peace the spiders. They are natural born enemies of flies and flies are a problem.

The flies in our cave are not the ordinary houseflies like we have in Florida. These flies are large noisy creatures that fly back and forth from one end of the cave to the other. It’s the noise that creates the problem. They sound like they were built with a Briggs & Stratten lawn mower engine attached to their huge black bodies. They like to buzz around my head when I am sleeping, reading or working. They are a relentless irritation to my chi and I have declared jihad against them.

I found an aerosol spray at the supermarket that is designed to kill flying insects but I am a little worried about my environment. It smells like citronella but I suspect it is Agent Orange. The first spray in the air is immediately effective. It clogs the fuel line of the first victim’s engine and a puff of black smoke trails the beast. It begins to sputter and lose altitude. It regains its strength and climbs again but the sputtering continues. It slams into the front window but regains some strength and heads for the back of the cave again. On the return leg, it hits the ground with his engine going full blast. It bounces, turns and spirals all the while buzzing erratically. He finally stops, sputters a few times and silently dies. God how I love the smell of citronella in the morning.

Actually, there are very few bug problems in the cave, but in the summer we eat outside almost every night and have to confront nature from time to time. I grew up watching Marlin Perkins talk about how practically every animal was a natural enemy of the other. When you are told that the giant anaconda is the natural enemy of a jaguar and watch them accidentally bump into each other for a fight to the death just when the show was being filmed, one gets the idea that nature is more brutal than it is in reality.

One evening as we were dining in the garden, Aprille spotted a small group of humming birds flying around our flowers. As the birds flew closer, I noticed that this particular breed did not have beaks. I told Aprille, "that bird has mandibles." It turned out to be a huge flying bug with mandibles that appeared to be capable of eating Tokyo. It made me think of that anaconda and jaguar. We decided to move dinner inside for the evening.

A neighbour told me the bug is called a scarab but it doesn’t match the description of the scarab beetle that I found in the dictionary. This insect has huge pincer like mandibles that gives it an evil alien appearance. It is a magnificent animal that fascinated me the first time I saw it but when it moved into our cave, I suspected Marty Stouffer was setting up a death scene between the mouse and the bug. I thought the battle had begun last night when I heard a loud rustling of books and papers behind the bed. I pull the bed back and saw an old paperback bouncing up and down. Oh, the humanity! That poor mouse! When I turned the book over the mouse had fled and the bug was kicking the book hard enough to make it bounce. I sprayed it with every insecticide I had but it survived into the next day. Where is Sigourney Weaver when you need her? Finally, I decided not to piss it off anymore and took it outside where it is breeding and planning world domination.

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June 26, 2002 - Summer

June 19, 2002 - French Property News

June 5, 2002 - Emmanuel de Broglie

April 24, 2002 - Election Day in Saint Rimay

April 17, 2002 -Surprise Review

April 3, 2002 - Spring in Lavardin
March 20, 2002 - Guest Columnist /Furman Magazine/ John Roberts
March 13, 2002 - Tête de Veau
March 6, 2002 - Table Etiquette
February 27, 2002 - A Country Boy Can Survive
February 20, 2002 - Driving in France
February 13, 2002 - The Circus
February 6, 2002 - History of France
January 30, 2002 - THE BEST I EVER HAD
January 23, 2002 - Miranda This
January 16, 2002 - Charlotte Observer Interview
January 9, 2002 - Walnut Wine
January 2, 2002 - Sloe Gin
December 26, 2001 - Winter Solstice
Archive of Weekly Columns from 2001
Archive of Weekly Columns from 2000



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