March 2018

They appeared on the sill, the sashes, and the muntins of our upstairs bathroom window. Ladybugs, crawling slowly about. Four or five at first. Ladybugs belong outside, not in the bathroom. They belong to spring and summer, not late winter. I didn’t mind at first. Ladybugs are auspicious in the garden – helpful consumers of aphids.

I wondered where they had come from. More appeared. I noticed tiny black dots, seed-like, on the window sill. Within a day or two, we seemed on the cusp of an infestation. I counted more than twenty crawling ladies, mostly on the window, but also on the ceiling and walls. A few carcasses appeared on the bathroom floor, along with a proliferation of the black dots on the sill.

I got my glasses and looked closely. Under the seed-like dots were faint, papery outlines of six short protuberances – the remnants of legs. Absent an available population of aphids, our ladies were eating one another. If I had once known that they were cannibals, I had forgotten. I never caught them in the act. I pictured a gluttonous, barbaric midnight orgy.

Not yet a confirmed Buddhist, but feeling slightly guilty, I fetched the vacuum cleaner and consigned all within reach to its interior. Since then, I have been dispatching their later-arriving cousins to the same destination. Ladybugs emit pheromones that allow them to detect one another. It’s possible that the feast continues in the dark and dust of the cleaner bag.

The late winter appearance of these spotted cannibals reminds me that life offers curiosities in some of its most mundane moments, and it reminds me to try to appreciate them. The ladies also remind me of spring, of garden secrets and delights waiting to reveal themselves.

This month brings us the blessings and joy of the bulb shows at Smith and Mt. Holyoke. Spring will come officially with the equinox on March 21, which is the day our grandson Kaleb turns three. Three-year-olds are good at appreciating the curiosities of mundane moments. I wonder what he would make of our ladybugs. I should have taken a photo, before whooshing them away.

The theme for March is humility. I am humbly grateful to be your minister.Janets signature