Stink Bugs

Kennebunk Plains, Maine

A terrible odor came out of the printer this afternoon. A streak of red (blood?!) and yellow goop ran done the center of the first page. I noticed an insect carcass - too big to be any of the blood suckers (bed bugs) that make sensational news.

Stink bug, I realized.


Now that our son's colic or growth spurt or evening decline has passed (mostly) each evening we sit close to the woodstove while watching HerbTV videos or talking. We spoon dinner from mugs - the easiest way to eat our simple but rich one pot stews while passing our son back and forth. He enjoys being held in challenging positions - slung over the shoulder balancing on his belly or belly down on outstretched arms. Occasionally, he enjoys "big boy time", sitting on one of our knees and facing outward. The key is that he must see everything from his position. If one lets his increasingly heavy body slip to say, a more comfortable position, he will alert you immediately.

Now that he sleeps through most of the night - 11:30 pm to 6:30 am - he nurses for a good portion of the evening. So, I often am sitting on one end of the couch cross legged, surrounded by pillows, receiving blanket tucked under my chin to protect everything below from dinner splatter. I am fairly immobile, which means Jared has to catch and cast all stink bugs into the woodstove.

BBBbbbrrrrssszzrt. bbbbbBBBBRRRRRrrrSSSZZZZZZrrrrt. Stnk bug around the lamp. Tink, tink, tink, tinktinktinktinktitnktitnk. Into the light bulb.

We sigh. I avoid eye contact with Jared, knowing that he knows he has to capture the beast. We watch the stink bug hustle across the ceiling to the other light, and take flight: bbbbbbbrrrrszt. Tink.

With Forest Stewardship rated toilet paper costing nearly as much as sirloin steak, Jared tears a less effective but more affordable piece of the Treasure Hunt (a free newsprint publication that contains classified ads featuring the Leigh Valley's junk for sale). Like a praying mantis with mittens on, he strikes at the stink bug and executes at careful grab - powerful enough to hold the insect, but gentle enough so the stink is not roused.

He opens the woodstove door which shrieks horribly, tosses the insect and paper in, and slams the door shut.