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Catching Bugs

Bee on clover flowerMy wife and I love walking our pair of miniature schnauzers on warm evenings. Lately, we've been walking by yards well-populated with clover, complete with honeybees. That caused a memory to jump into the forefront: catching bugs and putting them in jars with holes punched in the lid.

I'm happy to see the honeybees, because they are in trouble. Their numbers have dramatically dwindled, a combination of mite infestation accompanied by irresponsible pesticide use.

My yard in Miami, Oklahoma was covered with clover flowers. It was an adventure stepping through them bare-footed, and stepping on the occasional bee was inevitable, the insect manifesting her displeasure by leaving her stinger embedded in a seven-year-old foot.

But the bees also provided hours of entertainment, when they were caught in the preferred method of dropping a wide-mouthed jar over the clover flower that was being visited, then lifting the jar and placing the perforated jar lid in place as the bee buzzed angrily inside.

Glass jar with holes punched in the lidIt was possible to get as many as a half-dozen bees in a jar successfully. At that point, you would crack the lid open and drop a few clover flowers in there with them. Of course, the bees were by now in no mood to look for nectar. But they would still fascinate a kid as they crawled around the inside of the jar and occasionally attempt to take flight, only to encounter a glass or metallic barrier.

We would usually let them out after a couple of hours of entertainment.

Bees were fun to catch, but they weren't the only tiny prey we juvenile hunters sought on warm summer days. Ladybugs, rolly-polies, centipedes, millipedes, and most any other forms of life that could be found in the side yard might end up confined in our trusty wide-mouthed jar.

But the ultimate insect hunting was done after dark.

In Miami, about early June, the fireflies would begin illuminating the early evenings, and kids all over town would be on the hunt.

Firefly, or lightning bug, if you preferThere was a thrill that would fill the soul of a child when he would look outside on a summer evening, just after sunset, and see fireflies rising up from the yard, flashing their magical lights on and off.

In short order, he would be outside with the jar, capturing the slow-flying beetles (we didn't realize they were beetles then, of course) and taking them inside to see their magical light show within the confines of his now-darkened bedroom.

There was simply no bigger rush than catching fireflies, at least to a kid in the sixties. It seemed to sum up all that was right with summer. No school, fireworks just around the corner, perhaps a vacation coming up, and life as carefree as it would ever be.

I caught a few more fireflies when my kids were small. Nowadays, I just look at them, and feel the same joy.

Work doesn't let out in the summer like school used to, and few of us would describe our lives as carefree. But we Boomer kids grew up in a great, optimistic era. We found great entertainment in simple things. And nowadays, we occasionally open up our mental photo albums and dust off a few treasured memories.

That's almost as much fun as catching bees.

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