Insect Whisperer

My mother and I have been walking together through some parks around town a lot lately. The thing is, she has this weird connection with all birds. We’ll be walking along…in the woods..and suddenly she’ll stop, turn, and point at a random tree.
“Do you see it?”
“See what?”
“Do you hear it?”
“Hear what, Mom?”
“The pileated woodpecker.” (She looks at me like – duh, Rachel – how do you not see and hear the pileated woodpecker – cause she knows exactly what woodpecker it is by the sound, people – forty feet up in a tree one hundred feet away? Come on, Rachel)
“No, I dont. Bird whisperer.”
This will happen all the time. Just the other day, we were walking through a State Park and got to this section where the path crosses under some power lines. We are not even out from under the trees when I get that Mom-arm thing…like when you guys are in the car together and even though you are wearing your seatbelt and she is the one driving, she extends her arm across your chest like a superhero. Yeah…except I was walking and it was like hitting a clothesline. Do Moms specifically exercise that arm muscle to be indistructable? I’m serious. I have a bruise. Well, she apparently spotted a turkey vulture in the clearing…two hundred feet away…along the tree line. So, this turkey vulture is blending into the tree line uphill and really far away. And I needed to see it.
One more example. We are wakling again (yes, we do this a lot) and we get to this small clearing with a little deck-like overlook into a lake and we are there for maybe two seconds when this bird flies over the lake by our overlook.
“It’s a hawk.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Yeah, it’s too big to be a hawk.” (at this point the bird starts to turn in a circle, showing us its back)
“Uh…is that an eagle?”
Yes, it was an eagle. And while the eagle was circling low on the lake dipping its claws in the water, another eagle was circling above the first one. After three turns around the lake, the first eagle dipped his claws in the water, brought a very large fish out, and flew away. In other words, my mother has this bizarre connection with birds that manifests itself when we walk. And apparently it is hereditary.
I. Am. A Bug Whisperer. Let me explain…This past Sunday, we were walking in another park in town and I brought my camera with me. The sun was out and it was warm with a breeze that would push through the trees every so often. I see this unusual red plant off the path and start taking some photos…and then I realize there is this grasshopper with pink legs, neon green body, and zebra-print antannea.
The thing is that it wasn’t always me seeing a flower and perhaps stumbling upon a cool bug. I literally would see the bug twenty feet off or just follow my photographer’s instincts…kinda like women’s intuition but completely different. I would just randomly walk away from the path and there would be a catipillar…
Or a spider…
Or a stink bug…
Or a bug that camoflauges itself to look like a leaf. Yes, I am THAT good. Or maybe I was just kidnapped by the government to have some sort of weird connection with bugs and then had my memory of that experience erased! What? Don’t look at me like that. Aliens are so much more improbable. I can’t help my conspiracy theories…1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are my favorite books. If you haven’t read them, then we can’t be friends.
And this happened throughout the entire walk. I think I found at least 15 bugs. It’s insane. I think I have a gift. Quick! Think of a job where this skill would be useful. Sorry, a paying job. Huh. I got nothing, too. How dissapointing. And ever since that walk on Sunday, I have found more bugs than I have ever wanted to find – which would be few to none. I don’t like bugs. I’m not scared of them but I won’t go out of my way to find them…or to touch them. I never had to do one of those cool but slightly creepy bug displays/collections for biology class. I just think that’s so weird…putting a metal pin through a dead bug and pinning it to a board to be displayed. Yuck. Thoughts of zombie bugs comes to mind – what if they woke up and they all came to attack me while I was sleeping with their pins still in them? Ugh! Now I won’t be able to sleep….great. I hate it when I creep myself out like that. It’s one thing to check for burglars when you lock up the house but zombie bugs?!
Yes, I did find the stink bug that was hiding. Under a leaf. On a tree.
Yes, all of these photos were taken the same day. Yes, if you ever call me the Dr. Doolittle of bugs, I will sick those zombie bugs on you.
Oh! And a lizard…just for good measure. Well, this was actually the fourth lizard we hard run into that day. And to answer your second to last question, yes, I do imagine myself as a National Geographic photographer when I do these types of things. And finally, yes, I do narrate what I’m photographing in an Australian/English/Indian accent as if I’m on some type of nature show.
And. It. Is. Awesome!
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