It wasn’t the first day of autumn. That still was three weeks away.
But it was the first morning of waking to absolute darkness.
Alarmed by lightning flashes and peals of thunder, the orange cat, Mickey, came to join us in the bed. He’s the one I sometimes refer to as “the brother I never had.”
Before the solstice there would be more blistering days. The forecasters promised that. But for now, at least, it was possible to imagine ahead to crisp evenings, leaves turning and the scent of wood smoke in the air.
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Meantime, however, we’ve had intruders to deal with.
I’ve heard it said that a cricket in the house is an omen of good luck and that its rhythmic chirping at nighttime encourages sleep. That may be so, but for a sleep aid I much prefer malt spirits.
A single cricket could be tolerable. An infestation would be an altogether different matter.
We haven’t yet reached that point, but the outlook is troubling.
Each morning, crickets wait in serious numbers at the threshold of our front door. When one of us goes outside to fetch the newspaper or turn on the lawn sprinkler, they take that as an invitation and rush inside.
I went on the Internet yesterday to see if I might find some strategy for repelling them. What I found instead were websites telling where to order crickets in serious numbers.
One prominent supplier offered to ship quantities of 1,000 — guaranteed to arrive alive — for just $18.95. They were of a species called greenhouse camel crickets and were said to be of good size, though smaller than a camel.
They do, however, have an unfortunate tendency toward cannibalism. They don’t eat the owner. Only each other.
Their principal use, the advertisement said, was as reptile food. But I’m not about to start keeping vipers as pets just to govern the resident bug population. In any case, we already have a fair measure of insect control.
The cats of the household seem to have a natural taste for crickets. The feral tabby our daughter brought to us from the streets of New York displays a particular taste for them.
Sometimes in the night I can hear her scurrying about, hoping for a kill. She’s talented, but the crickets are quick, too. So the cats aren’t a perfect solution.
In fact, as I sit at the desk in my home office, a quite large black cricket just now walked brazenly across my shoe.
I’m not terribly fussy by nature and try to put a good face on this.
But I read the other day of a horrific plague of them arriving in Oklahoma in such numbers that they covered the floors and walls of homes, businesses, even restaurants.
If that happens to us, I suppose the best I can hope for is that the increase in their numbers may cut down dramatically on our monthly budget for cat food.
For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.