Today is 10 Eb 10 Tzek

1268 shopping days until 4 Ahau 3 K’ank’in.

a june bugA sign of summer.

This beetle is called a June bug, presumably because we see them, hereabouts, on warm nights beginning in June. I have no idea what species of beetle it is, the Linnaean taxonomy, but June bugs have been part of summers here in Oklahoma as far back I can remember.

June bugs are slow, cumbrous fliers, which makes them easy to catch. When I was a kid I used to catch them, and then put them in my sisters’ hair, or down their backs. The June bug usually reacted to sister insertion by emitting a rapid fire clicking noise. Much flapping about and screeching would ensue. This all was fine entertainment for a ten odd year old boy on a hot summer night in the late sixties. Nowadays, I would not be so cruel–to a bug–or to my sisters, for that matter. Both of my sisters are in much better shape than I am these days, and could beat me up.

June bugs seem to be somewhat phototropic, but they don’t arc around a light bulb the way moths do. June bugs sort of veer into the glow of, say, a porchlight, seem somehow disappointed, make a turn like a tiny overloaded cargo plane flown by a drunk, veer out of the glow, veer back, are again disappointed, and so on. I don’t see them as often, or as many at a time, as I did back when. I don’t know if this is because there are actually fewer June bugs, or whether untrustworthy memory has multiplied them into a retrospective swarm, or simply because I don’t turn on the exterior houselights that often. I like to sit on the porch in the dark.

The June Bug in the image above  flew into the kitchen through the open back door one night. I swept it out the air just as I used to when I was a boy.  I took its picture with my dcam, and released it back into the warm night air, rather than putting it on my wife.

My impulse control has improved over the years.

One of the most famous apochryphal statements in annals of  science was allegedly made by the evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane (Jack, to his friends). When asked by a theologian or theologians what could be inferred about the mind of the Creator from the works of His Creation, Haldane replied, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”  Entomologists are up to 350,000+ known species of beetles, so if there is a God, Haldane may have had something there. Haldane also said,

My practice as a scientist is atheistic. That is to say, when I set up an experiment I assume that no god, angel, or devil is going to interfere with its course; and this assumption has been justified by such success as I have achieved in my professional career. I should therefore be intellectually dishonest if I were not also atheistic in the affairs of the world.

Accept the premise that God has an inordinate fondness for beetles (He made so many), then it must follow that entomologists that specialize in the study of beetles must be the most Godlike of people. But only if they love their work.

I am very fond of June bugs–almost as fond of them as I am of fireflies.  At the peak of manic episodes sans medication I have experienced what can be called “godlike” exhaltation. But I haven’t believed in God since I was five years old. I vividly remember the moment. The TV buzzed like a bug in the living room. I said to my mother, “I’m going to die.” She said, “No Honey, of course you’re not going to die.” I went and sat down on the floor in the front hallway. The door was open, the screen door on its latch. I looked out at the night–summer night. Heat lightning flared soundlessly in the distance beyond the blink of warning lights on tall radio towers. June bugs (and other bugs) bumped against the other side of the wire grid of the screen door. I was going to die. It was alright.


14 responses to “Today is 10 Eb 10 Tzek

  1. “I have an atheism, but it beams with holiness.”–Rabbi Irwin Kula.

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  3. This is wonderful, D. Your description of childepiphany is beyond perfect, truly beautiful,

  4. Thank you, Sam.

  5. “At the peak of manic episodes sans medication I have experienced what can be called “godlike” exhaltation. But I haven’t believed in God since I was five years old.”

    I can relate. Been to the hospital for mania a couple times.

    I’ve also had a childepiphany and the two are separate things.

    When I was manic, I was demented.

    When I had a childepiphany, I was more or less one with nature.


  6. In North America there are about 500 different species of beetles that fall under the common name June Bugs or, as some call them, May Beetles. As far as I know, all are suitable for a 10-year-old to put down his sister’s back.

    I remember liking to catch them when I was much younger, but these days they are more of a distraction. As I try to photograph moths under our porch light, they drunkenly crash into my camera, bounce off my forehead or, sometimes, land and crawl down my back. I don’t flap or screech, but it is impossible to hold my camera still enough for a good photo when a June Bug on my upper back is crawling toward points south.

  7. Yes, I googled & wikied June bug after I posted this piece, Marvin. Didn’t want to spoil the flow of the piece by hoovering up a bunch of data beforehand via the innertubes.

    Whatever the nomenclature, the crampons or whatever June bugs have at the end of their legs are barbed and they dig in and hold tight when they land on skin. Not painful, but you can certainly feel the grip.

  8. :)
    found what seemed like a dead one the other day..
    took pictures.. moving it around alot and left it on the table on its back.. a few hours later it started moving :o
    so im guessing they are deep sleepers:)

  9. I heard on the radio that today was Kafka’s birthday. Did Kafka dream he was a beetle, or did a beetle dream he was Kafka?

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  11. One of your very best, Dana. And that’s with the two of us going back a long way.

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  13. Najbolja BiH muzika INGRAY (AXA)

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