A visitor can show up at the most peculiar time. Dawn is not yet evident, but from the sound of the traffic on the nearby highway, hours of rest are nearing an end. The trailer is cold as usual. The morning routine begins by waiting for the propane furnace to kick in before putting my feet to the cold RV floor. A cozy warm fleece-lined bed is no match to the breath-seeing chilly Arizona air to scurry half naked to turn up the thermostat that’s located at the opposite end of the trailer. Layers of warm clothes are within an arm’s reach. (Actually, everything’s within reach in a 25-foot travel trailer.) The items of clothing for the top half go on first while the bottom half of my body is still nestled in the warmth of the fuzzy sheets. If everything goes smoothly to this point, the lower half gets fully clothed before the furnace kicks off because trailers can cool off quickly. At a certain age, a body never knows how it will feel when it is fully awake and vertical. Today’s a relatively good day.
At the first sign of dawn, the dimmest light in the trailer gets turned on, which is the one over the stove. Sleepy eyes just aren’t ready for an intense glaring light. Gentleness is the theme in my life these days. A small stainless steel pot with a long handle is ready to do the first of many chores on the stove today. It gets filled with fresh spring water out of a plastic jug precisely to a level that prevents a spill over from boiling. An Eddy match is struck and there’s now a warm glowing circle of tiny blue flames with yellowish tips beneath the pot. A brown plastic cone-shaped filter, which still has the word Melitta engraved on the side in faint red letters, gets lined with thin same-shaped white paper. As many coffee grounds as possible are scooped from a large tin can with an ordinary teaspoon and dumped into the cone like a front-end loader moving the biggest possible bucket load of dirt. A small amount of prune juice from the fridge is poured in a tall rose-coloured plastic tumbler which awaits the addition of hot water. The laptop gets turned on as I make my way to the back of the trailer to turn the furnace on again. Windows plays a short ambient tune and the Avast antivirus lady inside the computer suggests that it is up and running. Things are really hopping now.
Anxiously waiting for the Arizona sun to warm up my tiny home, I raise the venetian blinds on the southeast side of the trailer just before making the bed. The faint light from the exposed window turns my attention towards a black mark that is now visible beside the bed on the off-white bare linoleum floor. I fumble for my glasses which I left on the nightstand and bend over to have a closer look. The spot on the floor has now moved to a different location. Good grief! A bloody earwig! What the hell is that doing in the trailer in the middle of February?
I had heard that there were earwigs in Arizona but were rarely seen during the winter. In this part of the world, they are called Pincher Bugs for obvious reasons—they have pinchers and can bite. I know from previous experience. Finding one on this cold morning inside my home makes my skin crawl and leaves me wondering where this particular creepy crawly came from and if there are any more lurking in my space.
Before leaving my home in Nova Scotia last October to begin my journey to the southwest, I had a daily battle with earwigs inside my trailer. There are just so many small holes on the outside frame for them to crawl through during the night into the interior. I speculate what other creatures could crawl through, as I also hear that this part of Arizona has an ample population of tarantulas and scorpions. In fact, a neighbour recently told me to tap out my shoes before putting them on in the morning because scorpions are known to snuggle into footwear overnight.
Over the years my property in Nova Scotia was an obvious popular breeding ground for earwigs. It wasn’t unusual to find the odd one crawling across my living room floor, or worse still, playing possum in my bed, in my coffee cup, or on my toothbrush. Freaky little twerps! So last fall before I went to sleep every night in the trailer, my eyes scanned every cease and corner in the walls, on the floor, and in the bathroom. I always found one or two earwigs playing hide and go seek with me in the smallest of cracks and in the most unlikely places.
Could the appearance of the pest this morning mean that it travelled with me all the way from Nova Scotia? Yesterday was an exceptionally warm day here in Arizona. Perhaps it came out of hibernation sooner than later. Why did God create this creature anyway? What purpose does an earwig serve in the grand scheme of things? What other creatures would dare to eat it? I can’t imagine an earwig offering a satisfying and appetizing taste to any predator. Could the answer to these questions be to teach gardeners patience and tolerance with all of God’s creatures, especially with this pesky devouring vegetarian monster.
Back to the problem at my feet, this morning’s critter looks pretty dozy and confused, so it is an easy game of capture and release into the wild. Not wanting to freeze myself from the early morning cold air outside, I open the door a crack and toss the captive a few feet from the trailer beside my small plastic garden bin full of healthy growing lettuce. Regardless of its origin and where it was hiding all these months, the stupid little bug is now fending for itself somewhere in my front yard.
Oh shit! My lettuce!