The Perpetrators (Stillwater Diary)

Gypsy moth, Stone Ridge, NY, 6/28/15

Gypsy Moth, Stone Ridge, NY, 6/28/15

My father, a good driver, coming home one evening in icy conditions, slid the right front of our navy blue Ford Falcon into a tree near the bottom of Bonnie Briar Road, where it intersects with Gailmore Drive. The car only had minor damage and because the accident was unlike anything in his driving record, thereafter the tree (also mostly unscathed), was known as The Perpetrator. (Or if we felt like making fun of Daddy, whose origins in the Bronx were sometimes still evident in his speech, The Poipetratuh.)

Several days after the caterpillars ceased chewing and the hickories were as bare as winter, I walked across the front lawn and small, white moths swarmed up like a blizzard.  Although I thought it was unlikely they were blameless in the deforestation, I couldn’t identify them.

The following weekend they were joined by fatter, brown moths, flying manic erratic, like their flight stabilization equipment had broken. These little nightmares I recognized, gypsy moths, and googling, sexed them as male.

Walking to the Groverkill with Leo and Ryder, I saw a white moth, likely a female gypsy, spiral out of the air and flutter frantically on the ground for a few seconds. I couldn’t have saved her but nor would I have–it’s heartening that the hickories are showing some new foliage but, as if exhausted from pushing out spring’s gorgeous leaves, what they’re managing now is miniaturized. (And too close to a moth for me is measured in feet.)


As predicted for an El Niño year, this Northeast summer has (so far) been cooler and wetter than usual.  The Groverkill is swift and full, like in early spring. And although I’d like to wear my Muck Boots to cross the stream or walk in it, I’m reluctant. After trudging through New York’s cold, sloppy winter in them, the edge of my right heel hurt. The evidence is circumstantial (I don’t have a control right foot and the left didn’t hurt), but strong, that my lovely boot is a perpetrator.

Muck Boot, Stone Ridge, NY, 6/28/15

Muck Boot, Stone Ridge, NY, 6/28/15

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