I’ve just returned from a trip to North Dakota and Brule, Wisconsin.
The latter is a place where we have, as my husband likes to say, “twenty acres of bugs.”
The mosquitos are equal opportunity parasites while the ticks I’m pleased to report clearly preferred my husband and son. I picked off only three and all before they had the chance to burrow into my skin.
But as a family, we had enough of both of these blood-suckers that I began to ask: Why are they here? Do they really need to exist? Do they serve a purpose?
Even as I was verbalizing these questions to my husband, I was remembering Annie Dillard’s book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – a book I read my first year in college in a course on grace. Yes, grace.
And so as I complained and questioned the bugs’ existence, I remembered Annie Dillard challenging our bias towards litters of puppies over swarms of insects. As she reminds us: “The earth devotes an overwhelming proportion of its energy to these buzzings and leaps in the grass, to these brittle gnawings and crawlings about. Theirs is the biggest wedge of the pie . . . Why do we turn from the insects in loathing?”
Every living thing does have a purpose. That I suppose is what’s wondrous-- that creatures like mosquitos and ticks and hognose snakes (that was in the woodpile pretending to simultaneously be an asp and a rattlesnake) are part of an immense fabric of life intricately made and interwoven together – all dependent upon one another. That’s what’s amazing and that’s what I tried to remember as I squished another mosquito and felt phantom ticks crawling up my back!