little, brown moths

Little, brown moths are popping up everywhere the last couple of days. I see them on the table outside. I see one or two hiding in the folds of my red velvet curtain. I watch them fly under the eaves. Really most everywhere I look.

Little, brown moths. No big deal. They don’t sting or bite. They don’t hide in the cabinets ready to scurry away with the slightest bother into some darker corner. They are not beautiful like butterflies, but they are not ugly. Merely plain. Plain and small and seemingly innocuous.

Now the that the early morning storm clouds have passed by the sun is brightly shining. The sky is a delicious blue. The firs and cedars are vibrant green, all with light green tips of new spring induced growth.

The sequoia in front must be almost four feet tall. Its trunk is now almost the width of my wrist. I planted it last year. It has lot of growing left in it.

The black oaks scattered around were filled with luxuriant broad green leaves. The great old oak behind the house made for an expansive canopy, a living umbrella which rattled like percussion in even the slightest breeze. Oaks young and old came out of their bare winter slumber with sun eager enthusiasm. I felt their joy.

The canopy now is in tatters. Once broad vibrant leaves are curled up, torn to shreds, mere whispers of their once glory. They have lost their color. They have lost their fullness. They are ruined. Their season is lost. These leaves can do no more work. The oaks, for the most part, have returned to their winter bareness, seemingly more stark, however, because they should be springtime lush.

I watched it happen. I watched from the moment it started to now when the devastation has seemingly finished. I felt helpless.

The moths which now are but a benign nuisance wreaked havoc on these mighty oaks . I watched the caterpillars descend on silk threads like paratroopers assaulting the Rhine.

They were little, green and black, seeming almost cute alone. Only these caterpillars were devastating in numbers.

They were distractions, distractions which added up. This year they destroyed the oaks for the season. Should this continue in coming years the caterpillars will eventually kill the oaks, much as the bark beetle infestation has left our forest denuded of pines. That little bug killed eleven hundred foot tall trees in our yard alone. Millions upon millions were killed on this mountain.

I worry now for the oaks because I saw what happened to the pines. I see these little, plain, brown moths and I worry for the aged, craggy oaks.

What is a caterpillar compared to an oak? Apparently a lot.

I have no idea what spurred this caterpillar infestation. Maybe there is a connection with our smaller than average wasp population. Maybe the rain which brought all the green and growth also brought an increase of those who munch the green and the growth.

I don’t know. I do now know, however, of a particular bacteria which causes caterpillars to stop eating, and thus stops them from eating up the oaks. One can spray this on the trees early in the season. I also now know that lacewing larvae love to eat caterpillars. A person can order a thousand eggs online for about ten dollars.

Caterpillars will always be among us and can, I realize, kill even mighty oaks. That is the way of things in nature. This doesn’t mean I have to sit helpless and watch it happen every year.

I can fight. I know that now. Too bad it took seeing the bare limbs and eaten leaves to learn what I needed to learn.

This was from June 14, 2006

A few years ago, Barclay Press invited me to do a two week daily journal for their website. They’ve since changed their online presence so those writings are gone. I was sorting out different files on my computer this evening and happened to run across them. So, I thought, I might as well repost them here. Both to have a record of them, and maybe more so, because these were written in 2006 and 2007. A fair bit of changes have happened in my life since then, so these are records of a time in my life when all I had was faith. I was writing a lot during these journaling times, and it’s curious what came out when I sat down to write. So, mostly for me, but also for anyone whose interested, I’m going to post one of these a day for the next 18 days or so.

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