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I saw the most wonderful looking guy the other day, clinging to the outside of the window on my back door. I was hurrying past the first floor landing on my way down to the basement to get my laundry out of the machine when i saw him there and I stopped. He was the color and shape of a stringbean, with an alien-shaped head and eyes and four crooked legs. I was able to really study him, on the glass the way he was. He didn’t move, but I swear he was looking back at me.


I intercepted a lightning bug as it flew past me where I stood on my mother’s front porch. He sat on my index finger and I looked at him; he didn’t blink his light and he didn’t fly away. He stayed on my finger for my whole walk home, little black antennae bending and straightening. When I got to my building I saw my neighbor’s slender grey cat in the grass so I sat down to join him there. As I settled onto the ground the bug opened its four wings and lifted off my hand and up into the sky.

I’m realizing I need a good bug identification book. This week I visited The Morris Arboretum, one of my very favorite places in the world, and I stood and watched a bee that can’t have been more than 3/12 of an inch big sitting on the petal of a large lily. It was busy with the flower so I was really able to study it, and I don’t mean to get fruity on you but it struck me at the time as being the most perfectly made thing I’d ever seen. Tiny diaphonous wings like wax paper with hair-thin veins through them. A teardrop-shaped body that he kept bobbing up and down. A perfect, tiny bee. I’ve seen some descriptions of dwarf bees and apis florea, but the dwarf bee sounds like it might be even smaller (! it’s the world’s smallest, apparently), and apis florea seems to be in other parts of the world, so I don’t know.

On one of the lovely sunny days we had last week, before this nasty-ass heat wave, I looked out the back window to where my mom was pointing. Two fairly hefty brown birds were pecking at the ground. Turned out they were woodpeckers, but a kind that often looks for ants on the ground instead of (or in addition to, I suppose) in trees: Northern Flickers. This appeared to be a male and a female because only one had any colored markings on it, a stripe of red on his back. I think that would make them Red-Shafted Flickers, but I didn’t look at my Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America until now, so I didn’t know about this variety. They were neat looking and had some real size to them; my book puts them at 13 inches long.