Monday, January 22, 2007


It is very cold up here.
So cold, in fact, that some small creatures choose to avoid it.

Their absence is not something you notice strait away. It takes a few weeks for it too dawn on you that there is something missing from this unusual environment.


We have no bugs.
There are no flies flitting around the garbage cans.
No ants marching on the sink.
No cockroaches scurrying under the counter tops.
No bugs.

It’s weird.

My students have grown up knowing little of the insect world. Sometimes in the summer on the tundra you might get misquotes. Or a few flies here and there.
But nothing like the bug situation of the lower 48.
Even the big dumb flies of last year would be very out of place here.

My classroom has become a torture chamber. We have a rack of grow lights and plants.
Everything from hot peppers to basil grow right before the children’s eyes.
They “ohhh” and “ahhh” as flowers bloom and peas shoot.

But there is another, more sinister, side to the garden.
Something that causes the young ones, the macho ones, and the tough ones, to squeal in terror like little furry kittens.
The garden is a haven for little tiny gnats.

The horror!

Small flying invaders buzz around the green leaves, they sneak through the soil, they flutter about the flowers.
They occasionally fly through the eye line of my students.
Screams ensue.

“Oh my God! A bug! A bug!”
“So gross!”
“So cheap!”
“It’s touching”
“I never like bugs!”

Screams and shrieks, running and hiding, flailing and waling.

My kids. The kids that can chop up seal without a tummy churn.
They can kill a lemming with their bare hands.
can eat whale meat still raw and warm.

But a bug will cause them to shake in their boots, or flip-flops*.

*You would think that with a wind chill of -40 the children would wear something sensible on their little toes. But no, they are just as “fashion” stupid as every other teenager.

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