Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bug Sur

After what seemed like months of depressing drippy fog, we in Big Sur are opening our hearts to the joy of these past sunny days. The smells of sun-warmed roses, wild-flowers, sweet-peas and sage fill the air around us, up the ridges and into our gardens. Ahhh, finally we have our Summer.

We dance on the grass, we work on our tans. And we bring out the mosquito nets and bug spray. If we're feeling really vicious, out come the electronic tennis racquet thingies that zap the nasty little monsters into oblivion. As I write this in the early morning, sitting outside on my blue Adirondack chair, gazing down at the fog-banketed sea, I'm about to get up and saturate myself in OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent VII. West Nile Virus be gone!

There are lots of bugs in in Big Sur, and they tend to be larger and more omnipresent than they are elsewhere. Big, hairy tarantulas crossing the road signify rain. Multiple scorpions in your house tell you to "wake up!" Wolf spiders (which no longer scare me in the middle of the night) scramble across bathroom tiles, while the dreaded "No-see-ums" attack our scalps on warm summer evenings.

Recently a neighbor introduced almost a hundred beehives onto the ridge right above us, a truly daunting colony of fierce honeybees. They are apparently very thirsty and spend most of their day racing at great speed up and down the mountain from the hives to our pond, where they hang out above the water lillies, freaking out the pond's resident fish and visiting dragonflies (not to mention us.)

The bees' industrious buzzing mimics the South African Vuvuzela horns of the recent world cup soccer matches, especially in their incessant quality. To date we've received a total of three painful stings, one on the tender bare foot of yours truly. Unfortunately, one cannot herd bees, but since their sheer volume is annoying to many, we're told they will be leaving soon to make their honey for other brave bee farmers.

Coating oneself in bug spray is not conducive to love-making (think kisses followed by grimaces) and yet, to be indoors during this time of year would be absurd. Thank goodness for cool breezes, slightly lower temperatures, and for natural repellent oils, patches and sprays.

Yesterday evening, as we alternately sprayed ourselves and smashed mosquitoes between our palms, we heard news of a genetically modified mosquito that would not carry malaria. "But what will it do to the birds that eat them?" we wondered. How are we impacting the whole chain of life by tinkering with genetic material? Big questions about a little bug.

"Why did god make mosquitoes?" I asked someone recently. "To piss us off," he replied. If anger and irritation is our teacher, a way to learn non-attachment, then mosquitoes are profound instructors. The Buddhist perspective here would mean not becoming Alpha Mosquito and waging war on them, but on co-existing with them peacefully. To have compassion towards all sentient beings includes extending it to the tiniest of insects, which flee from their impending deaths at our hands. Spiritual awakening through mosquitoes? Well, why not?
Dragonfly photo by Linda Sonrisa
others courtesy of

1 comment:

Lisa G. said...

Yay bugs! I did not say this last night when I got home at 3am and took the decorative pillows off my bed to find a large scorpion 2 inches from where I was ready to drop my sleepy head. I eyed the bookshelf for an effective exterminator, but the compassionate heart won out and I captured and released - no muss, no fuss. If I ever see a tarantula though, I'm coming over.