Patent leather beetles, grubs, earthworms

Published 11:57 am Thursday, June 9, 2016

For two days we dug up and collected earthworms in the woods behind the house, dropping them into a bucket. We had hundreds — fat ones, skinny ones, wriggly ones, tiny ones. Pill bugs — roly polies — didn’t interest us, but we saw thousands under the leaves. Two white, slimy grubs became prizes in our collection, and very briefly a snail was a treasure until its untimely death.

Then we hit the bug mother lode — a patent leather beetle — pulled proudly by a little hand from a rotting log.

The three Illinois boys were in town last week, out of school two weeks earlier than us, and we entertained them with shovels and dirt.

The two-inch patent leather bug, well-named because of its shiny black shell, had to be proudly displayed to all visitors for the week.

We discussed serving earthworm sandwiches for lunch slathered with Duke’s mayonnaise to promote the boys’ Southern heritage, but they would have none of it. Worms are high in protein, I told them.

The boys have returned home without the earthworms. I dumped them in the flower bed. The patent leather beetle, however, has migrated to Illinois. He may become a show-and-tell item when school opens in fall. Won’t the kindergarten teacher be amazed?

• • • • •

My Miami, Fla., very liberal aunt-in-law has been distressed that I’ve come out of the closet for Donald Trump. She has sent clippings this week of anti-Trump columns and editorial cartoons from the Miami Herald to dissuade me. I must admit that her newspaper’s editorial cartoons are very funny.

My second-born has also made it as his mission to change my November vote. He reminds me that Trump’s often outrageous persona is everything that I have lectured him against for 25 years. He wants me to vote Libertarian.

I’m going to receive a lot of free advice in coming months.

• • • • •

Forty years had passed since I had seen country music star Dolly Parton, and I must admit she has weathered the years better than I have. Elizabeth gave me birthday tickets to Dolly’s “Plain and Simple” concert last week at the Greensboro Coliseum.

No, frankly, the concert was not as good as her 1976 performance in the Granite Quarry Middle School gymnasium, but it was still pretty wonderful. It was Dolly after all. I fell in love with her sweet, crystal voice 40 years ago. I could never imagine that green-eyed “Jolene” stealing Dolly’s man.

There may have been 500 of us crowded into the Granite Quarry gym 40 years ago. Dolly had just left mentor Porter Wagoner to go solo. There were maybe 12,000 of us at Greensboro, and the amplification masked some of the beauty of her voice. She was funny, entertaining and comfortable on stage. A coliseum filled with gray-hairs like me basked in her presence and an array of her best songs.

When she sang “I will always love you,” I knew she meant that for me. The tightwad in me, however, is still reeling from the $20 parking fee at the coliseum. I don’t get out much.

• • • • •

By the time this newspaper hits the streets, the 13th Congressional primary votes will be counted. The Democrat and Republican nominees should be decided. A confusing 17 Republicans were on the ballot and five Democrats. All the GOP candidates boasted they were conservative, pro-gun, pro-life, pro-Mexican wall. Many of the candidates pictured themselves with weapons to certify their support for the 2nd Amendment. Candidates posed with shotguns, rifles, pistols.  A few even fired them. Gun store owner Ted Budd of Advance won the contest for the biggest gun. He impressively cocked a huge assault rifle in one of his TV ads.

– Dwight Sparks