Once upon a time about 45 years ago, Owen wanted geckos. They were popular with kids his age. You could buy a couple of them at the pet store for a couple of dollars. The real money was spent buying the terrarium, food, and all the other things you needed to set up a place for tiny baby geckoes to live.
I told him I had nothing against geckoes, but we had cats and they were serious hunters. I was pretty sure those little geckoes would ultimately get eaten by one or more Siamese cats. He was sure he could protect them.
I bought three little green geckoes and a terrarium. Lights. A cover for the terrarium which was supposed to keep the cats out and the lizards in. Sand. Rocks. A little cave-like rocky thing in which they could hide. It turned out they needed to eat live food. Meal worms. It was about a dollar for enough mealworms to feed the tiny geckoes for weeks. The container was plastic and had a cap. You had to put the container in the refrigerator. It wasn’t a very secure container, but I put it on a shelf where I thought it might stay undisturbed until I needed it.
Sometime shortly thereafter, my mother dropped by to visit. In those days, we all lived — us, my brother and his family, and my parents — a couple of miles apart. It wasn’t unusual to just drop by if you were in the area. My mother went to the fridge to get something to drink and discovered…
Live, crawling, mealworms. The cup had fallen over and there were worms in my fridge. No matter how hard I tried to explain to Mom that these were actually supposed to be food for the geckoes, she remained unconvinced. For the rest of my life, my mother was sure I had worms in my refrigerator.
Shortly thereafter, the cats figured out how to get the top off the terrarium and ate the geckoes. We didn’t replace them.
I have always disliked insects and been terrified of spiders. Over the years, I’ve managed to overcome most of the terror. As long as it’s not poisonous or one of those gigantic wolf spiders who have serious biting power. I’ve even gotten to a point whereby I accept the presence of huge spiders as long as they stay in the woods and not my house. I manage to resist the temptation to run screaming to anyone who looks less afraid than I feel.
I can buy bags of dried mealworms to feed the birds. They need the protein and at least they are already dead. So imagine my surprise when we were about to put fresh seed in the bins and I realized that there were things crawling around on the lids. “Those look like mealworms,” I said to Owen.
He looked. “Yup. Mealworms. Definitely.”
I shrugged. “They probably came in that last big bag of seed,” I said. Mostly I was trying to figure out how to clean those big bins which would not fit in the sink. “Pity, ” I commented, “we can’t just feed them to the birds. I’m sure they would think this was a luxury dinner.”
We couldn’t put the fresh seed into the containers without cleaning them out, so I finally took them out to the deck and hosed them down, then left them there to dry out over night. As far as I know, it’s not supposed to rain tonight, though these days, you never know. Moreover, who’s to say the new bag of seed doesn’t have its own mealworms? It’s not unusual to get bugs with seeds. The birds don’t care and probably prefer live bugs. Dinner on the hoof.
I realized while I was never going to be fond of creepy crawlies, I had lost (mostly) my crazed fear. Maybe it’s living in the country where there are an astonishing number of insects. Mostly, we try to keep them out of our foundation (NO termites, please) and food because we aren’t birds. We prefer our food dead, cooked, and bug-free.
No matter how it happened, I seem to have come a very long way without realizing it. As long as I don’t have to contend with scorpions.