The afternoon sun filters through the mid-sized elms, and the asphalt smells like a heated oven. My car registers 95 degrees, even parked under the trees. I throw my work tote in the front seat, and crank up Elfin, roll my windows down farther, and glance at my side view mirror before backing out.
What is this? A florescent-green something clings to my mirror. Crisp, furled up leaf? Fresh snap pea? Bright avocado slice with legs?
Whatever it is regards me with black, pinpoint peepers.
On the 25-minute drive home, my eyes dart back and forth between the road and my lime gelatin-colored passenger. I squeeze the brakes carefully. I wonder about wind shear.
I need not to have worried. Those chartreuse tootsies stick like suction cups. Maybe she enjoys the breeze. Maybe she likes to go places as I do. Maybe, a bit of a gypsy.
I relax my shoulders when I pull into my driveway. Not a microfilament of her pristine little self appears ruffled.
My little passenger can make a home here on these two acres of lawn, stream, pines and maples. I wish her well and leave her to figure out relocation details.
I search online for my pretty bug and discover she is not as pedestrian as a cricket or a grasshopper, but is a lovely, magically colored insect called “katydid.”
As the bright afternoon softens into a translucent evening, I light a white candle and settle down on the floor to meditate. In the pale glow, I try to still my mind, but thoughts return to the little katydid that journeyed home with me.
A distant memory of a story my Aunt Katie told me surfaces. Before Alzheimer’s took her mind and, ultimately, her life, Aunt Kate –speaking in her country twang –shared that schoolboys at Unicoi Elementary taunted her, jumping at her and back, singing, “Katy did, Katy didn’t, Katy did. She didn’t! She did!” In the telling, my aunt wrinkled her nose remembering how that, well, bugged her. I feel a sad “missingness” for my aunt.
I briefly consider whether Aunt Kate might use the katydid to reach out to me. – aware that I might make a connection with this particular insect like no other. What an imagination, I think, and blow out the candle.
Ten days later, I lift the trunk of my car to stow groceries. There on the back window glass basking in the morning sunshine, perches another katydid. She faces me, her long antennas gracefully sweeping several inches past her compact body, six tiny legs gripping the glass. Do you see me? she seems to ask.
Three mornings later, I pull back my bedroom curtains at six-thirty. On the window screen, the shadowed outline of another katydid welcomes me. I blink my eyes and peer closer and blink some more. It cannot be, I think. I lie back in bed and quiver a little like a furled leaf, myself, incredulous at the unlikely creature poised behind the curtains. What are the odds of three katydids appearing so close in time –as if they are showing themselves to me purposefully– situating themselves in places I cannot help but see?
Almost a month passes. It is now late July, dog days of sizzling heat. I visit my mother and park on the street in front of her small white house. Returning to my car a couple of hours later, I whisper, “Katydid,” in a little trill, laugh a little to myself, and start to open my car door. Near the side mirror reposes another katydid. By this time, I just marveled and accepted this little insect visitation. As I drive home, she pads across my windshield to the other side of my car, nonchalant as if she knows its terrain like the back of her feelers. Arriving home, I find her near my car’s back window.
I consider whether Aunt Kate sent those little green critters to say, “Susie, you did what you could for me and I am well now and sending blessings to you. Stay open to guidance from our side.” Did Katie? Or did she not?
Susan H. Evans writes and educates college students in East Tennessee. She is published in Deep South Magazine, Ornery Quarterly, Six Hens Literary Journal, and Christian Science Monitor.