A warm sticky summer night and I’m lying in my bed with the little window fan going at full whir until my mother comes in when the air gets cool to turn it off. The cool fan-stirred air felt good after a hot day spent chasing butterflies, playing hide and seek, and riding my bike. It is this scenario that comes to mind on this mid-spring evening of an above average temperature day.
Sometimes I long to go back to those days. Carefree and fun with my biggest worry being whether or not any of my friends or brothers would be around to play with me. I remember hot pleasant days the summer between fourth and fifth grades, which I spent collecting butterflies and assorted other bugs. My father, always ready to build or fix something, used a cardboard box and a piece of screen to build a cage for butterflies. I filled it with grass, a few twigs, and a small jar lid with water in it, and headed across the street to the field in front of my elementary school with my butterfly net. Small yellow, white and brown butterflies were in good supply there, and it wasn’t long before I had one in my net to run across the street with and put in the cage. Once there, I spent time watching it drink some water, and crawl among the grass, occasionally testing out its wings. After a while I’d let it go and repeat the process. I also caught other bugs such as grasshoppers, holding them in my hands for a bit before letting them go. My mother provided me with a large mayonnaise jar for my observations of assorted other bugs. Our neighbor across the street, knowing of my interest in bugs, called me over to his garage one time to see a huge green dragonfly. It was as long as his pointer finger, with beautiful lacy translucent wings. Another time I caught a praying mantis. We kept it for a week or so in a gallon sized jar with holes poked in the lid. We put grass and some twigs in the jar, and my father caught spiders at the factory where he worked and brought them home in Styrofoam coffee cups covered with foil and a rubber band. After dinner, we fed the praying mantis the spiders, taking delight in the triangular head and huge eyes that watched its prey. When the time was right, it would strike out with its arms and capture the spider. I believe it crushed the spider before eating it, but I don’t quite recall that part. When we let the praying mantis go it hung around our yard for a while before flying away. Eventually I grew out of my fascination with insects, but I enjoy the memory of that summer.
Now that I am an adult, a wife, and a mother, we have central air conditioning. We sleep in the summer with the windows closed and the ceiling fans on, but every once in a while I wish for a small window fan whirring away into the night.