Our heavy rains over the past few days have cooled us down immensely and caused our usually clear-watered Li River to run a muddy, ugly brown. Along with the wet and cool come another yearly event to our remote southern China region: Hatchlings.
After a lovely little shower this afternoon, I returned to the campus from my daily pool-in-the-middle-of-nowhere swim and an uptown shopping venture. Trekking along the wet sidewalk, it was all I could do to keep from stepping on the thousands of tiny jumping creatures at my feet. The former tadpoles, ascending from the nearby murky riverbanks, had finally made their way into the world . . . and us.
At first, I thought I was stirring up gnats that had landed on the cement but the more I walked, the more obvious it was that these hopping itty-bitties were, indeed, our baby frog population come to life. They were everywhere, and on many occasions impossible to sidestep.
I have a sentimental heart when it comes to struggling things in need and would have loved to scoop them all up, placing them back along the riverbank where they could survive, but there were just too many to help. Heading out into the street, I did my best to allow those on the sidewalks a fighting chance, at least from my heavy footsteps.
The Winged Hoards
That same kind-heartedness can’t be said for the winged, termite-bodied insects that have been diving nightly into our air space from their buried ground homes. Those I swat at constantly, carefully guarding the spaces under my balcony and stairwell doors so as to keep them out.
I tried looking up the name of these things on the Net and had no luck. They are some sort of short-lived Asian insect that arrives like locusts at this time of year. In the evenings, the swarms flap their way into our night classes, hovering around the lights until they drop to the concrete floors. Their wings shed immediately and they copulate profusely. In the grassy outdoors, the females burrow into the ground to lay eggs but inside classrooms, they have no chance of this. They hook up with no hope of further offspring ever making it into the world, and only a few frantic minutes of getting anything exciting out of life before being squashed underfoot.
Sure gives the phrase “a moment of happiness” a whole new meaning.
The poor students in our night classes are accosted by these bug antics. They annoy the boys and terrorize the girls. Discarded wings spiral downward and swirl about from the whirling ceiling fans. The insects’ wiggling bodies fall into hair, onto textbooks, down shirt fronts or backs and across desks. Students are distracted and teachers are frustrated.
It’s at times like these when I am very grateful I have all my classes during daytime hours.
In the mornings, piles of wings and other insect parts are found scattered across the campus and throughout dormitories and classroom buildings. They greet me every morning when I walk out of my apartment. The cleaning ladies sweep the leftovers into neat, tidy piles which can be found at every turn. In other words, there’s just no escaping their presence, alive or dead.
I have nothing against Mother Nature’s many living beings but these things? One does wonder.
Fortunately for us, the worst seems to have passed. Last weekend was the most taxing on everyone, with this past Monday and Tuesday slowing down a tad. I don’t remember putting up with anything like this in Sichuan along the Yangtze River so looks like this will be my last experience ever again with these critters, unless for some reason I return.
It’s very true, I could honestly be tempted to come back some day to teach. There are many things I love about living in Guangxi’s rural southern China, but these nasty insects? Not one of them.
From our Chinese river town, here’s wishing you bugless hassles and lots of pretty butterflies. Ping An (Peace), everyone!