Often these days (as my befuddled fellow condo owners here in Ecuador look on in puzzlement), I am seen sneaking quietly through the brush, delicately turning over leaves inspecting their protective undersides for shrouded creatures.
The daylight does not always fully expose these pint-sized, biologically-evolved critters who, as you lean in, flaring your nostrils wide to absorb a blossom’s pleasures, lurk and lie in wait on petal and leaf with a simple and morally unencumbered purpose – to kill, mate and eat. As I duck under branches and weave through tall grasses, I am mindful that some of these minute critters are fearful of my giant-ness and have sought safe refuge from me. Wishing them (and myself!) no harm, I try to be quiet and gentle as I turn over rocks and flower petals. I crouch soundlessly on the ground waiting for an eye to eye snap of the lens that remembers before my subject ducks into the dense foliage. I am trepidatiously aware though, that others are exceptionally brave, camouflaged, diminutive little sociopaths with their stinging tail-ends and poison-laden fangs poised and readied for the ambush. Clearly for them, I must be viewed as a jumbo-sized food bank or a colossal menacing giant that needs to be warned away as I plow through their homelands, because trust me, I have more than my fair share of welts to prove that I’ve succumbed to their warfare and donated to the bug blood bank and buffet.
And come the nighttime, as I lie engulfed in the darkness slumbering soundly beneath the sheets (smothered in anti-itch cream), I am oblivious to the outdoor threats I have left behind…. that is, until that faint buzzing starts, and the creeping, stinging, biting, sucking, night flying fiends which now are invading my homeland stealthily begin to prey on my warm, inviting, skin-covered veins. (But be aware, my tiny, blood-filled foes, when the day dawns, I will be back on the hunt and those who have attacked will be first in my sights.)