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Selected Podpieces


Ah, summer on Cape Cod! The sun sends down his gentle rays from the heavens, the Merry Little Breezes ruffle the pines, the air is full of little brown moths, fluttering, flittering, flattering – well, not flattering me, but the furry white female moths who cannot fly but creep helplessly along the ground and up into the crevices of tree bark, wings quivering feebly, at the mercy of the feverish male moths who for all I know are whispering Ah, my beautiful fluffy one, when I smell you I cannot control my mothly urges, you will be the mother of my eggs!

Yes, it is gypsy moth mating time, not to be mistaken for gypsy moth larvae munching time, the evidence of which is all around me as I walk through the yard beating away the frenzied males (much as I did in my prime). My oaks look as if it is January, my fothergillas are utterly nude, and my serviceberries are motheaten. I hope that soon new leaves will spring from the twigs and branches healthier than ever, what with all the fertilizer provided in the form of the pounds of caterpillar frass that coated the ground over the last month, but so far the leaves seem reluctant to poke out their pale green tips.

This morning I made my way through the moths on my usual morning walk through the yard, noting that the daylilies were reaching their zenith, the tree frog was not in his usual canna lily, some mammal whose name I know had rolled on his back in the bleeding heart, breaking the stem of the nearby six-foot-tall rue. In back, the buttercup squash vine is climbing the fence and the monarda punctata is about to bloom; I’m eagerly waiting to see it in real life, as I’ve only seen it in pictures so far.

As I approached the birdbath beside the Black Cherry tomato, I saw that a dozen male gypsy moths were caught in the water, fluttering as helplessly as their female counterparts do on the ground. I am nothing if not inconsistent: much as I would like them to be dead, I did not want to watch them die. I fetched a wood chip and began scooping them out of the water one by one. Most, of course, will not survive to mate again, as their wings were sodden and useless. None, saved or not, would live more than a few days.

The air is full of gypsy moths, the traffic is much too thick, the sun is merciless, and sharks are patrolling the beaches. Summer on the Cape! Unlike the life of a gypsy moth, it’s much too short.

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