Tag: bees

Charlie’s Room: Rainy Afternoon

The afternoon was cool and overcast. There was enough light to read by, but it felt later in the day than it actually was. They had eaten lunch late, so no one was in a hurry to start cooking dinner.

Marianne and Charlie were drawing up plans for the garden. They had the spring garden coming along well, but it was time to start transitioning things for summer and planning for fall. Luckily they kept a pretty detailed garden journal, so they were able to look back to previous years for help.

Isaac was reading. The story was getting to an exciting point where he kept turning pages to find out what happened next. He was so interested in the story, that the world around him faded away.

Suddenly, he felt Charlie tapping his arm. “Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad…”

“What?”

Charlie folded his arms across his chest with a frown. “You weren’t listening. We were asking your opinion on cantaloupe.”

“I like cantaloupe.” He turned back to his book and read the first sentence of the next chapter.

Charlie tapped his arm. “But do you like it better than honeydew melons?”

Isaac shrugged. “I like them both.” He began reading the first sentence again.

“That didn’t help.” Charlie began tapping his arm again.

Marianne laughed. “I told you. He’s too busy thinking about his book to think about gardens. We can ask him later.”

“Fine.” Charlie stopped tapping.

Isaac read the first sentence of the next chapter for a third time, but this time he wasn’t interrupted. It wasn’t until the next chapter break that he noticed it was raining. He looked up and realized that the room was a lot darker than before.

He was leaning in a lot closer to his book. He straightened up and stretched his head from side to side. Ouch. How long was he hunched over like that?

The house seemed quiet. He looked around. Marianne and Charlie were curled up on opposite arms of the couch, fast asleep.

The rain continued to tap against the windows. If he listened closely, he could almost hear music. He stood up and walked to the window. Outside, he could see brightly colored dots hovering around the flowers. They were the size of bees or maybe butterflies, but more luminous, and they seemed to be humming to the rhythm of the rain.

He watched them weave around the flowers in whirling patterns of color for a while. However, the humming and the rain and the snoring behind him were all making him a little sleepy. Isaac sat back down in his comfortable chair, picked up his book, and read the first sentence of the next chapter. Then, he fell asleep.

Of course, he didn’t realize he’d fallen asleep until he woke up later, startled out of sleep when he dropped his book. Marianne laughed. “You’ve been sleeping for a while. I guess the book wasn’t as interesting as you thought.”

“It was the rain…” Isaac stopped and listened. “The rain stopped.”

“It put us to sleep, too,” Charlie said. “We just woke up.”

“Sometimes an afternoon nap is just what you need.” Marianne smiled and began to gather up the papers on the couch.

“Since we took a nap, does that mean we can stay up late to watch a movie? Dad doesn’t have work tomorrow, and I don’t feel at all tired anymore.” Charlie jumped up and did a little dance. “See, full of energy.”

“That does look like a wide awake sort of dance,” Isaac said. “Do you think there are falling-asleep dances?”

“I wonder what that would look like?” Marianne thought for a moment and shook her head. “I don’t usually think of dancing as something that would put you to sleep.”

“Maybe if it was the kind with the long, slow music,” Charlie said. “You know, the sleepy kind of music that doesn’t seem to go anywhere.”

Isaac thought about the little dots of color and the humming and the rain. “I think you’re right. The music does matter. So, what kind of music is wide awake music?”

Charlie didn’t have to think about that at all. “The theme song for the newest dinosaur movie! We can watch it right after dinner, and we won’t feel at all sleepy.”

He was right.

Grandpa Tells a Bug Story

Grandpa was babysitting while Mom and Dad went Christmas shopping. Carrie went too. Grandpa wouldn’t admit it, but he was probably slightly relieved. Carrie didn’t like being left with babysitters, not even Grandpa.

Jim was working on a report for school. “I have to write all about bugs. It’s kind of interesting.” He flipped through the pages. “They’re everywhere, you know. And they can do good and bad things, just like people.”

“Like what?” Neil closed the book he was reading.

Lynn snorted. “Everyone knows that insects can spread disease and eat crops or they can work as pollinators. Some insects eat other, more harmful insects.”

Grandpa nodded. “Yes, I remember when bugs were invented.”

“Insects weren’t invented.” Lynn rolled her eyes. “That implies that they’re machines, and they’re not.”

“Shhhhh.” Neil scowled. “It’s a grandpa story, and I want to hear the rest of it.”

Jim put down his pencil. “But who could have invented bugs? There are so many types.”

“That’s because they were invented by a committee. No one could agree on anything, and so they tried to do everything. But in their rush to be the first to complete the project, there were a lot of errors.” Grandpa shook his head. “That’s why people talk about errors as bugs sometimes. Some of those insects were so buggy it was terrible.”

“They shouldn’t have released them if they weren’t made right,” Neil said. Jim nodded.

“Yes, that was yet another mistake. The air holes on the holding tanks were much too big. So they all got away. The later committees that formed to fix the mistakes came up with crazier and crazier solutions, until they all finally gave up and let the bugs run wild.” Grandpa wiggled his fingers and waved his arms like bugs running away.

“What were some of the solutions?” Jim asked.

“Mosquitoes are really susceptible to viruses, you know.” Grandpa frowned. “I think it might be due to an error in their programming. They used to also have a terrible craving for cheese. They would raid cheese stores in giant swarms, carrying off wheels of brie and Camembert and cheddar. They would leave viruses in the cheeses they didn’t take, like feta, which is crumbly and hard to carry away.”

“So what did they do?”

“They left a trap for the mosquitoes. A gigantic pile of spoiled cheese. The mosquitoes all got food poisoning and haven’t eaten a bite of cheese since. Unfortunately, it made them angry. Now they bite people, and anything else that moves. I don’t know if they’ll ever stop being angry. It must be another error in their programming. Mosquitoes are just made of errors.” Grandpa sighed an shook his head sadly.

Neil laughed. “Tell us another one.”

“Spiders. They came up with spiders to catch flies. Some of the committee members thought it was working too slowly and developed poisonous spiders. I don’t need to tell you what a mistake that was.” Grandpa paused and the children shook their heads. “Exactly. Some of those spiders are worse than the flies. One of the committee members was particularly impatient and started swallowing the flies herself.”

“Spiders don’t swallow flies,” Lynn said. “They digest them first by…”

“But what happened to the lady that swallowed the flies?” Neil interrupted. “Did she die?”

Grandpa shrugged. “Not right away. She swallowed a spider to catch the flies…”

Jim laughed. “I heard this story. She kept swallowing bigger and bigger things, like cats and dogs and horses.”

Lynn rolled her eyes again. “Ignoring the impossibility of swallowing something as large as a cat, let alone a horse, once they were swallowed, they wouldn’t be alive anymore. She wouldn’t need to swallow anything else. The digestive juices in a person’s stomach…”

“So did she die?” Neil interrupted.

“Of course she did,” Jim said.

“It was a shame. If only she’d been a little less impatient,” Grandpa said sadly. “Insects aren’t all bad, you know. I really admire bees. They pollinate flowers, have a well-organized society, and produce honey. They are tiny little marvels of efficiency.”

“But they sting people.” Neil frowned. “That’s not very nice.”

“Bees only sting people to protect themselves and their homes,” Lynn said.

“Not like wasps. Those are the mean ones. They can just sting people for fun.” Jim turned to Grandpa. “Which came first, wasps or bees?”

Grandpa tapped his chin and thought for a moment. “Ah yes. They were in development at about the same time. The wasp team cut corners to finish first. It’s too bad. If the developers were more careful, maybe the wasps would have turned out better-behaved.”

Lynn sighed loudly. “You are all so silly. You do know that insects have been around for millions of years. Grandpa couldn’t have been around before insects were. That’s impossible.”

Neil shrugged. “No it’s not. Grandpa’s older than dirt. Dirt has to be older than insects, so Grandpa is too.”

Grandpa nodded. “That’s right. Did I ever tell you the story about how dirt was invented?”

Just then, they heard the front door open. Mom and Dad and baby Carrie were home. Grandpa stood up and picked up his jacket. “Oh well, maybe another time.”

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