Startling discoveries

There have been developments in the story of my lady beetle roommate, and they are not good. Not good at all.

On Tuesday, I attended a “fun run” (it was 19 degrees) at the local park. A bunch of people wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and Santa hats and cute Christmas socks and those antler headbands ran around and around (and around) the park past the Christmas lights displays set up by local businesses. It was 3.6 miles if you did the loop three times, which I did not, because I was at the back of the pack. I didn’t see a one of those light displays because the road was basically a sheet of ice, and in addition to forgetting my festive sweater and hat, I also forgot to put those little tungsten spike thingys on my running shoes so for 2.5 miles I was mostly trying not to fall and break something. It was peaceful though.

Before the run started, I was in the warming house practicing the fine art of making small talk with strangers, when I saw a lady beetle on the sink in the kitchenette area. Just like my lady beetle on my kitchen sink! I exclaimed, “Hey, it’s a ladybug!”

Anne Marie, whom I had met a few days before, said, “That’s an impostor. One of those Asian invaders.”

“The Asian invasion,” I said as I nudged the beetle with my fingernail to see if she was alive. She crawled a few paces and rested again, preserving her energy.

I was delighted but also dismayed to find another beetle outside of my apartment. Since I discovered her, I thought mine was the lone survivor of her race. I felt special that she chose me to be her host. Meeting this warming house beetle made clear the fact that they are simply resilient creatures, and a few were too stupid to migrate out of North Dakota at the end of the summer.

A couple of nights after the fun run, I was in my kitchen preparing dinner. I moved the honey container over to the cutting board so I could spread some honey on a piece of lefse. It has been my goal to eat potatoes in one form or another until the end of 2017. My lady beetle emerged from the edge of the honey container, somewhat bewildered at having been relocated across the kitchen. I put her on my index finger and deposited her back on the counter top where she had been. “Be careful, little girl,” I said to her.

After I finished with my lefse, I returned the honey to its spot near the refrigerator and told my lady she could go back to crawling around the edge of the container. And then, as I turned away, I noticed another beetle on the floor. “I thought there were two of you!” I said. I had suspected there was more than one in my apartment since the day I found the beetle with the ashen skin and a black cancerous spot on his/her back — a beetle different from the lady I found crawling on the wall of the living room.

I bent down to inspect the floor creature, whom I decided was a boy because he was living on the floor. He appeared to be dazed or sick. I poked at him and he managed to move ever so slightly.

When I returned to the kitchen later that night, the boy beetle had moved into the center of the floor — a most dangerous position — further solidifying my notion that he was a male. “I’m going to step on you if you stay there,” I said.

The next morning, he was still in the same spot. I poked at him again, and this time he did not move at all, so I swept him up with the dried Brussels sprouts leaves and the litter that Melvin dragged out of the litter box and dumped him into the garbage can.

My lady had a friend, but now he’s passed on. And we have a neighbor beetle who lives at the park. We are not special, my lady beetle nor I. We are just doing the best we can to make it through the winter.

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