Living with a ladybug

There is a lady beetle living in my living room. It’s December. She can’t go outside now, so she hangs on the frame of the patio door. Some days I see her there and wonder if she is dead and somehow managed to paste herself in one spot rather than slide to the floor. But when I turn on the lamp in the corner, she comes to life and flies around all crazy and bewildered, battering her little body on the light.

She has been with us since the late fall when she and a hundred of her friends and family took up residence on the south side of my apartment building. They clung to the window screens and the bricks, and a few sneaked inside uninvited. People around town complained in social media and to the newspaper. “Get rid of these things!” they cried. Let them be, I thought. They aren’t hurting you and they will fly away soon enough.

They did fly away, or die. Except my lady beetle. She is either very tenacious or daft.

She can’t have eaten anything for months, unless she has tricks up her sleeve and has found a way to forage in my garbage can. The other day, I thought I should try to feed her. I don’t know what lady beetles eat, or if she would eat anything I offered. Or where to find grass in December in North Dakota.

She must be lonely. And bored. All of her companions have been gone since the unusually warm days we experienced in November. “Indian summer,” we used to say. Not politically correct.

Those days reminded me of playing in the marching band during my first year of college. We wore yellow t-shirts under our 100-year-old polyester uniforms so that we could remove our jackets after we finished performing the pre-game and halftime shows. It was so warm through the entire football season that we would be sweating through our layers of green and gold by the time we arrived at the stadium. In subsequent years, we marched in snow and sleet, and the trombone players spritzed alcohol from spray bottles to keep their slides from freezing.

I know she will meet her end soon, and I will find her at the bottom of the patio door frame or unknowingly suck her up in the vacuum. My poor lady visitor. I am sorry she lost her way.

* * *

This morning I shared the story of my lady lodger. I opened the patio door this evening after work to shovel away the two-foot high pile of snow that had drifted in during our most recent snowstorm, and she blew out onto the snow. She blew, not flew.

I reached out and picked up her little body with my index finger, hoping she would become startled and would instinctively find her way back into the warmth of our apartment. Alas, she was frozen in a sliver of ice, one of her tiny wings extended.

“Goodbye, Lady Beetle,” I said, and shoveled her away. She now lies buried beneath a pile of snow on our front lawn. Rest in peace, my lady.


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