Prairie Dwelling with what Preys

fuzzy mantis

Yesterday, I communed with nature,
I meant to whack nature down with the tractor, not make peace, but along came a preying mantis to perch upon my hood.
I took the picture without cutting the mower because, hey, I was working. All that vibration and the mantis is fuzzy, yes, but look how crisp the grass appears? Splotchy, browned by August heat, but green thanks to weird rains.
I digress.
We rode the acreage, and the bug made me miss my pups, the two who usually rode the plain atop my lap when I mowed. They are gone. One rode no matter what, ears flapping, toothless, tongue drying in the wind, there for the duration. The other rode until he couldn’t, at which point he clawed my denim leg seeking a point for launch. Brake. Set the pup free. Mow on, while he plodded along behind until the mower quit.
If Fitbit had counted his steps, he would have set records.
Now on a fine Sunday afternoon, a storm to the north sending cool breezes my way while I watch the clouds for lightning, Pup-less, I’m riding with a bug, his oversized eyes upon the changing horizon, my human-sized eyes torn between the sky and the insect. We are happy.
Around the sixtieth left turn, Mantis grew bored. With a pivot I did not see he set upon a path straight up the orange hood of the mower while my subconscious screamed, “They jump!”
Just as danger green-leg stilted in my direction, as soon as his antennae honed into my location, and as his back legs crouched further, tensed to pounce, I may have jerked the wheel to the left.
His tiny form flew past, front legs reaching to nab me.
Whatever he found wanting in the ride, I don’t know. But these days, I travel alone.
An hour later a juvenile rattlesnake sprang from beneath my favorite Vitex bush, and a cicada riding a weeded tree limb cried “foul!” from beneath the oversized plastic lid of the world’s most gigantic municipality-provided trash can.
I told them all to suck it and hit the shower.
All in all, a good day on the farm.

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