Crawly Things

May 9, 2016

The rain fell all day again. The birds loved it, scurrying around for half-drowned insects. A pair of bluebirds has taken up residence in Geneyard, and a redheaded woodpecker, whose nest must be a hollow tree space or on top of a utility pole, scooped up live crawly things for impalement in its nest.

The news from Farmer Orville was that he planted his Early Girl tomatoes early and his squash plants were already flowering. The strawberries were about to burst like early fireworks, only you can’t eat fireworks—unless you’re incredibly dimwitted—and you can slush strawberry pulp in your mouth and suck it and swirl it and sluice it, and it is perfectly legal.

Bless me, Father, I have sinned. I have vegetable lust. You can lust after cantaloupes and not worry you’ll be indicted for sexual harassment. No carrot has ever called the police. You can pet zucchini, and what happens in the vegetable garden stays in the vegetable garden. If ripe blackberries remind you of perky nipples, who’s to know?

Ruby Puppy presented me with my very own dead blacksnake. She carried the hapless reptile around the yard, growling and whipping the snake’s body back and forth. By the time the serpent was offered to me, only the top third had completed the journey. It lay on my right shoe, like a trophy ready for head mounting. And Ruby Puppy licked me with snake slime, and scales are popping out on my arm.

A black-capped sparrow mom has built a nest under Orville’s carport and given birth to three balls of feathers. The mom cocked her head as she listened to Orville talk about his sister’s funeral. It went fine, Orville told me and the mom bird, only his baby sister died out of birth order—he should have been the one who passed. This made me wince: I couldn’t imagine life without Orville and the Quilt Queen, and now many of you can’t either.

Sheila S., no slouch in the story-telling department, told me this morning that when Saturday’s storm from hell hit, she and her friend Connie were sitting in an outdoor beer garden in downtown Alton, waiting for a concert to start, and the freight train wind descended and lifted all the table umbrellas from their holders, and she and Connie each grabbed an umbrella, and a waitress was literally blown off her feet twice and crawling around on the sidewalk, and patrons battled to close the umbrellas and not spill beer. An actual tornado would have been less exciting.

The buffalo gnats have returned. They swarm your face and eyes, and they take little delicate nibbles of your flesh, and they sing dirty songs in your inner ear. They love bald heads, and they freak me out much worse than crawly things do.

This afternoon’s menu at Geneyard: night crawlers, red worms, June bugs, red ants, aphids, black ants, leaf hoppers, pill bugs, pinch beetles, water beetles and inch worms. Don’t pet the pinch beetles.

And please pass the ketchup.




About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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