A few days ago, at the request of my daughter Ariana, I visited a Pet Supermaket. As she rubbed the Guinea Pigs, annoyed the mice and rabbits racked with fear, I begged us to leave. Bored, I was walking around the store totally disinterested with its content, until I heard a sound that captivated me. I stopped near birds, but discarded them. It was not bird singing what I was looking for.
Do you have crickets here? I asked.
Yes, big and small, they are sold by the dozen, how many do you want?
I followed the seller to the cricket's containers. Inside, hundreds of them fought in a seething gray mass. They are cheerful and dynamic insects. When I look at them, I think they smile back. I thought that they would be a good addition to the new house: singing crickets and frogs like in the old Caraca's nights.
Determined, I ordered two dozen. With a funnel, the boy collected, measured and packed my crickets. Ariana, ashamed of my purchase, walked away. While moms in line bought birds and adopted cats, her mom had a tangle of insects kicking each other in a transparent plastic bag. Someone asked if they were food for my lizard, I confessed that it was a kind of liberation front. They would be released in the garden of the house and in a gesture of gratitude they would sing for the rest of their lives, or about six weeks, according to the salesman.
I paid $1.50 a dozen and once in the car, Ariana cried in disgust. They look like cockroaches! she repeated. That's disgusting, mom! I tried to appeal to her feelings by telling her my garden adventures when I was a young child and caught grasshoppers in the house in Colinas de Bello Monte in Caracas. Only served to confirm that I'm "embarrassing". That no mom buys insects; that insects are meant to be crushed and exterminated. While driving, I had to take the crickets in my lap, under my protection and defense, fearing that my little insectophobic would throw them out the window on a public street.
Upon arriving home, passed the first hurdle, I doubted where to release the crickets. The backyard grass did not seem to be the ideal place and decided to free them next to stones and sawdust in front of the house, near the door's entrance. The poor crickets came gushing from the mouth of the bag and ran to hide quickly. I counted more than fifty (so actually, they were half off the price) Every leaf, piece of wood and rock came alive. I saw none jump. I imagine they are not jumping kind. Maybe in this battle in the bag, some had lost their legs. I do not know. In that case they would be mutilated, but happy crickets. Free at last.
By nightfall, I kept the house silent to listen. No TV, no music. I turned off the air conditioning. But the crickets did not sing. Looking out the window I saw some of them walking up the walls, toward the ceiling. I tried to open the door, but they occupied the entrance, staircase and lined the doorway, preventing me from stepping out and even closing the door. I swept them off with a broom. It was then when I heard crickets. All the crickets in the neighborhood were chirping. All but mine. Maybe my crickets were in the process of adapting to a new environment or they felt vulnerable to their new found freedom.
Mortified by the silence of my little pets, I returned to Pet Supermarket and talked to the expert. He said that temperature affects their singing. They sing more when its hot. And the temperature has been cold. He also said that only adult males chirp to attract females. If they are not adults, I would have to wait for them to grow wings, which are the ones that rub together and produce sound.
Another possibility is that all my crickets are actually girls The salesman showed me how to differentiate males from females. With skill, he took a few samples and showed me a spine that females have in the rear. He said, and he was very emphatic, that every cricket produces 200 offspring! in a month and a half old.
Now my husband accuses me. I am guilty of committing an ecological crime. That all wildlife in the Miami-Dade area is endanger. I've broken the fine-natural balance of Miami's ecosystem. That this is reason enough for me to be deported back to the Banana Republic.
He continued. That bugs (as he contemptuously called) kept me in suspense with their "noise" (note the manipulative use of vocabulary) every morning of my life . That nothing will ever be the same. Now hairy spiders whose favorite appetizer are the crickets, will invade our house.
Quite a drama!
Two weeks have passed since I adopted the crickets. Yet I do not hear the first one sing. I look for them, and can not find them. Could have they being eaten by bats? spiders? mice? Did the cold weather kill them? Ariana? my husband? I hope that gardeners have not fumigated without my consent.
There is definitely a conspiracy against my ecological spirit.
It will Continued ...