My relationship with the natural world is always changing.
As a child, I heartily loved life, nature, and all creatures big and small. I had a strong sense of responsibility toward other life forms, made it a
point to not intentionally harm any living thing, however small, even to the point where watching someone kill an insect would pain me.
Growing up, I had an appreciation for the beauty of nature but knew very little of her wanton destructive power. Life has since shown me that Mother
Nature can be brutal, but I also noted that more often than not, she nurtures us with a teeming abundance that we rarely notice until we see signs of
At some unknown point in life, I lost some of my childhood compassion. Killing bugs no longer pained me, to the point that I could casually smash an
insect with no real regard (an act which would have horrified my childhood self). The daily news continued dulling my senses to the sanctity of life,
and to our irrevocable interconnectedness. Have you sensed it as well?
But something happened yesterday that is making me reevaluate my relationship to other living creatures, and an unlikely affinity was forged.
is a roly poly, aka pill bug, aka Armadillidium vulgare. Not the most heartwarming creature to look at, I know.
I was going about my duties as a gardener yesterday, one of which is to clear my garden of these pests. They are not terribly destructive to plants
(decomposers) BUT have been known to make a meal of my brand new green bean and pea seedlings and have therefore earned their way into my enemy
I’ve noticed that they seem to know when there’s been a disturbance, when one of their own is being threatened. Once I start picking them out of
the garden (I usually toss them over the fence) I see the others start to scramble. This was interesting to me, and slightly disquieting (that I was
wrecking a roly poly family) but not enough of a deterrent in regard to keeping my garden free of pests.
Then I picked up a big one and noticed something was off, something was inside this one… it had rolled itself up around a baby!
I set it down, amazed, suddenly feeling like an invading soldier facing down a cowering family. It started to crawl away, holding the baby in its
back legs to carry it to safety, wrapping up again around it again. In time the bigger insect unrolled and found a dark hiding spot, as did the small
Still observing. I see a large roly poly (same one? I had lost track) lumbering over the dirt (the others were hidden) and encase ANOTHER baby.
Now I’m convinced I’m seeing something remarkable. My heart is changed. I have no enmity toward these creatures anymore. I (think I even
verbalized this- I know I’m weird) conveyed to the creature that I wouldn’t harm them anymore and it unrolled immediately, revealing the protected
baby, and started scurrying across the dirt, pausing here and there. Where the bug stopped, the dirt would start to move, and the babies emerged from
Now I really don’t know how I plan to go about keeping my garden free of pests.