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Poor Will's Almanack: June 2 - 8, 2020

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Maciej Lewandowski
/
Flickr Creative Commons

Early this spring, I was working in my greenhouse, pinching back stalky plants, when I accidentally broke off a long stem of a geranium plant.  I placed that stalk in a tall, clear vase half full of water and put on the kitchen table.

This simple bouquet soon gave birth to a squiggly mosquito larva that added an extra interest to breakfast time.

As April advanced, my partner, Jill, and I kept track of it as we ate. One morning, we noticed it had changed into a tiny pupa, a black creature that looked a little like a shrunken tadpole. The pupa was more adventurous than the larva, and we kept track of it for almost a week as it travelled up and down the glass vase.

Then one day, we were drinking coffee and we saw that our companion  had changed shape once again and had become a fat mosquito.

We knew that if we allowed it to get into the house, it could become an enemy and either bite one of us or die trying.

So I took it outside and set it free.

And then I wondered what to make of this incident, and I took a kind of informal inventory of my feelings. In a way, I was grateful for having known the accidental mosquito. I felt surprised and maybe even a little lucky or honored to have observed its metamorphosis.

For a brief time, it was an uncomplicated life form that simplified my own life. When I released it, I considered the possibility that it might spread disease, but since COVID-19 was attacking the whole world,  one mosquito seemed harmless enough.

Jill just thought of it as a little friend. I did, too.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the third week of Early Summer.  In the meantime, look closely: What’s in that vase on your breakfast table?

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.