The ladybug was doing quite well up until yesterday, the day when he was to be returned to the farm. The Preschooler had diligently provided spinach and lettuce leaves peppered with aphids each day, along with just enough water to keep his worms and the other bugs in his mini-ecosystem happy. He slept with his transparent bug bucket at the head of his bed every night despite my better judgment. And even though my dad tried to drown every living creature inside with a Katrina-like deluge when I wasn’t looking, I was able to downgrade the storm to a Category Two before any long-term damage was sustained. Or so I thought.
At 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the ladybug seemed fine. By 10:30 a.m., he was not fine at all, having fallen from his perch at the top of the bug bucket into the muddy soil below like a tiny, discarded strawberry. I tried to soften the blow to the Preschooler by explaining that he must have been an old ladybug. After all, the Preschooler had just guided a dozen ladybug larvae through the pupa stage and beyond a month earlier. I assured him that the ladybug didn’t die from lack of love.
But really, Ladybug, you couldn’t have held out for just a few more hours? This was not going to endear me to the Farmer, who, by my calculations, had 350 more aphids than usual to contend with. The story was supposed to end with our triumphant return to the farm, ladybug in tow. The Preschooler would release him into the wild with a bittersweet flourish, thereby learning a valuable lesson about love and letting go, while the Farmer would bestow upon me a knowing look that I would interpret as his pledge to be my backup husband. Instead, it was almost as if the ladybug was making some sort of grand statement. A refusal to be a pawn in the elaborate lover’s games of another species. Leave it to me to find the one principled ladybug.
I didn’t want to return to the farm empty-handed (more for the Preschooler’s delicate pride than my own, I swear), so I spent some undisclosed amount of time outside looking for a replacement ladybug. Normally, you can’t walk three paces without being swarmed by ladybugs, but you just try looking for one when you really need it. I was not successful.
So, I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson from all this. If you ever find a ladybug in your CSA produce, don’t tell your farmer.