Saturday, December 1, 2007

South African Bubbles

Sometimes after a good rain, we get flying insects. These flying insects are a similar build, but smaller size than the bird-like insects that soar into my window with loud thuds every night. They have clear wings, the shape of an elongated tear drop. If the wind has blown just right a day or so after the swarms of these insects have died, you’ll see little clusters of their wings- hundreds of wings- huddled in a corner, or caught on the edge of the grass patches. Puddles of wings. An eerie reminder of the creatures that take over for a day, and then disappear until the next rainfall when the next generation attempts to avenge their fathers’ and ancestors’ untimely downfall. Of course, only to suffer the same fate. Mother nature has a wicked sense of humor.

They crawl out of holes, one by one, in a rhythmic fashion. Little flying-incest-soldiers, marching off to battle. First their bodies emerge, then their wings pop out, they take a few steps, and then off they go. From far away the swarms look like a fog over the village. When you see it close up, it looks just how it is: like hundreds and hundreds of flying insects.

It’s not so bad, though. They’re generally pretty considerate. They very rarely fly into your face if you’re walking through them, they more or less stick to their designated area (outside,) and they don’t really do much but fly around and look slightly menacing. It’s hard to know just what their purpose is. But then again, it seems a bit hypocritical to berate them for embodying such a fundamental attribute to life itself: purposelessness.

On the other hand, they do serve a function. It is probably not the function that was intended for them when nature molded these organisms into what they’ve become- but who is really to know that anyway? They turn into the little South African version of an American child’s bubbles. Blown specifically for them to chase and pop. A fun game for children to play.


Directions: Stand outside the flying-insect holes and frantically run around. Chase and clap the creatures in between your hands. Giggle with glee when you get one. No need to wipe your hands until you‘re done. Not to worry, there’s an endless supply.
The cost: a small battalion of flickers of life that would have died within the coming hours anyway.

Maybe. Just maybe …
Maybe Mother Earth knew all along what she was doing. From the very instant that fate began to weave its intricate pattern of the flying insects’ evolution- specifically choosing an adaptive pressure here, a mating selection pattern there; Mother Earth knew all along that they were to become the South African child’s bubbles.

After all, it’s a universal fact that children need bubbles.

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