What to do with a bed bug.

Over the past few weeks, we have had a regular visitor. He arrives in the darkness on shuffling feet and wiggles and grunts his way into our bed.

I suppose it is the excitement of his trip through the house under the cover of night that makes him start coughing and coughing and coughing. Once he starts, he cannot stop.

Daddy Longlegs and I both wake up, it is rather hard to sleep with someone coughing on your face and spraying a fine mist of spittle on your eyelids. Although we are both awake, one of us plays dead and waits him out, while the other sits up, rubs his back and assumes parental responsibility. The role of nurse and possum switches from night to night, usually depending on whose side he lands.

“Water?” Little Legs asks.

We give him water.

“Cough medicine?” he asks.

“You already had some,” we remind him.

 “Pillow?” he asks.

“It is right there.”

“Oh…” he laughs.

Apparently, not sleeping is funny.

I am working out the silver lining to this exhausting situation, these are the highlights so far.

1. The nightwalker and one of his parents get to see one another at an unexpected time.

2. We have a bed to share in a house that is mostly safe for nightly travel.

3. It is not a situation that is going to last forever.

So, I will focus on appreciating the visits from our nocturnal son, rework our plan to get him to stay in his own bed, hello honey lollypops and endless bribes, and lastly, be grateful that Baby Brother is still in his crib and it is only one visitor, for now.    

Junk Pile

Shattered glass glitters from the rocks. I spot the danger just as Baby Brother begins to climb towards its shining surface. His fleshy palms and fingers grabbing for the next hold. His billygoat-like brother is next to him, faster and nimbler, aided by his longer legs and stronger hands.   

“Get back from there,” I yell to the boys.

They laugh and run away, chasing each other around the house. 

Although they are naughty, they have only just entered the crime scene. They have an air-tight alibi, they were both napping inside after lunch, so I rule them out as suspects.

Daddy Longlegs is inside, working in his office, so although he is also naughty, he is ruled out as a suspect to the mess.

Suddenly, the culprit is in front of me.

She is big, hairy, farts in her sleep and is carrying a rusty, metal light fixture in her mouth.

“Coco, don’t chew on that,” I say.

She throws it up in the air and goes after it with a woof, not listening to me at all, much like her human brothers. She has been raiding the pile of old tin cans, liquor bottles, unmarked plastic containers and scrap metal from discarded farm equipment that is in the woods behind our house.

These are the last vestiges of the original landowners.  

From the junk pile, I have learned that Old Pappy was a drinker and Mammy liked condiments and perfume. They were not concerned with how plastic becomes brittle and breaks down into smaller pieces and eventually into microscopic particles that end up in our water, soil and air. Or that the small mountain of glass bottles would be carried by a brainless dog and dropped onto rocks to splinter into a thousand shards close to where little boys like to walk barefoot.   

I would venture that Old Pappy and Mammy were less concerned with caring for their environment and more focused on staying out of the way of rattlesnakes, finding ways to put food on the table and keeping the pigs and chickens in the yard.    

Although dealing with the junk pile makes me irritated and angry, especially when the dog brings hazardous materials to the boys to play with or litters the ground with rusty metal and glass, I cannot fault Old Pappy and Mammy for surviving in the best way they knew.

Likewise, we are surviving in the best way that we know how which involves taking care of our tiny plot of land and one another. We try to use fewer plastic products, create less waste and recycle what we can because trash does not disappear. It gets hidden under brush and bramble until February when everything on the land is laid bare.

And the ugly pile of trash is still there, not going anywhere until the dog moves it.      

The Yankee In Me

Yesterday, we met with a woman who wanted to use our office for a daylong training.

Words flew out of her mouth like a flock of birds during migration. A swooping mass that went this way and that way, mostly in a forward direction. Her crooked teeth reminded me of my mother’s smile.  

“Tell me to slow down if I am speaking too fast, that’s just the Yankee in me,” the woman explained.

It was a bizarre thing to say which made me think of a tiny solder in blue holding a musket, camped out somewhere in her body, defending the North. The same North that is under a blizzard warning, while we complain about the rain and grey skies of middle Tennessee. (By we, I mean Baby Brother and Little Legs. You are right to assume this was part of a serious discussion.)   

However strange the phrase, I understood what she meant. We carry the place(s) where we are born and raised with us, right down to our cells. It comes out in how we speak, our preferences, what feels safe or unsafe, who and what we seek out. It is so much of who we are, consciously and subconsciously.

My inner Yankee, obviously irrational, misses the cold weather and longs to hear the call of the Hoosier in its natural environment. (It sounds like this, Go Hoo-hoo-hoosiers.)

Being so far from home during this weather event, I feel like we are missing out on a history making experience that will change and bond those involved. An experience, that like childbirth, is unforgettable and mostly terrible but also amazing to remember after it is all over. Enduring this snowstorm will result in a memory that people will talk about to their children and their children’s children about.

“And the snow was how high?” the small people will ask.

With each retelling, the response will get higher and higher. We are talking the stuff of legacy here.

In the meantime, my heart is in the Heartland. I will be keeping all our friends and family on my mind as they hunker down and wait out the Blizzard of 2022. I guess if I really want the blizzard experience, I can always go down the street to Dairy Queen where I can get one with a whipped cream and a cherry on top and that will keep my inner Yank happy until we can get back home.