I cleaned out my raised vegetable bed to prepare for the beet seedlings and a couple of tomatoes that I have sprouting, tucked safely in their newspaper cups on the back porch. In the process, I really made a mess of things for a lot of critters. I was tempted to wail, "Oh, the humanity!" as I watched the circle of life unfold on that tiny stage, but then I remembered that these were not humans, but bugs and pests.
Nonetheless, I am compelled to offer an open letter of apology:
To the Displaced Residents of the Raised Garden Bed,
I am sincerely sorry that I have disturbed your quiet settlement. With its tall grasses and flowering weeds, and a vegetable plant that was occasionally dropping overripe, rotting fruit for you to nibble, I am certain that you presumed this to be an ideal location to live and procreate.
To the lizard: I am sorry that I disturbed your nest. Your eggs were so tiny and perfect. I really admired the workmanship. And the babies that were jumping from weed to weed were adorable. On the bright side, I unearthed a lot of small bugs for you to eat.
To the stink bugs: I'm sorry I flicked you off my arm in a moment of panic. You have grown so numerous under the cover of weeds and I was just taken by complete surprise when so many of you jumped on me. I will presume hereafter that it was intended as an enthusiastic greeting, since we haven't seen each other all summer. I will be more careful in the future.
To the ants: Well, in your case, I am not sorry. You bite me all the time and leave swollen welts filled with pus. Nothing that causes pus can be up to any good at all. Yes, yes - you are hard workers. I've heard that since elementary school. But really? Did you have to start attacking the snails? It was like watching urban rioting after a natural disaster. Inexcusable.
And finally, to the snails: I like you guys. I find you unendingly endearing. I have gone out of my way to not crush you in my driveway and to smile while you turn my sweet potato vines into lacy wisps of nothingness. If I don't even harvest any sweet potatoes this year because they had no leaves with which to gather nutrients from the sun, I will probably forgive you anyway because you are so darn cute. I love how you carry a swirly, round house on your back. I like anything that is round, and I loathe straight edges and sharp corners. You embody all that I love in nature. Well, except for the slime. Seriously. Yuck. To you, I offer my most heartfelt sorrow. I didn't realize that my raised garden bed was the epicenter of your culture in my yard. I will weep for the tiny ones that are now exposed to the sun and for the larger, older ones that struggled to right themselves, having been tumbled over by my aggressive weeding techniques. I will mourn the loss of those who were still eating the grasses and have now landed in the trash heap, still attached to the last morsel they will ever enjoy. Yes, I am most sorry for you, snails.
My garden is where I work, battling the elements, taming nature and coaxing what nutritious food I can out of the dirt and seeds. The elements that I have to fight? Yeah. You guys are some of them. You eat my food. I mean, you're cute and everything (I'm talking to you, snails), but I'm not sweating and getting dirty to give you a nice meal. So, it's time for those of you who survived this morning to find a new home. I'm giving you a week. Then I'm coming at the dirt with a hoe and you do not want to be in my way.
The sweaty lady with dirty fingernails.