Chapter 12 of the Crow series
JUNEBUG and the FIG TREE
June Bug on a String
In days way back on Tumblin Creek
The latter part of Spring
‘Twas sport for every boy to have
A June Bug on a String.
The bug would fly like all the rest
But what impressed me so
Was that the length of string controlled
Just how far he could go.
Some might have thought he was free
To go his way but still
I held the string that gauged his flight
And pulled him in at will.
A man can get entangled too
No matter when nor where;
And set a boundary upon
His freedom then and there.
He may fly high and buzz about
And have a mighty fling
But after all he’s governed by
The one who holds the string.
By Pek Gunn
I have twice as many fig trees in my backyard now as we did down on South Street those many years ago. However, my children never climbed them nor did they cherish the purple-skinned fruit with the juicy, ruby-red, viscera as did I, my siblings, and friends in our youth; although I did succeed in getting them to indulge in the sticky goodness of my one and only fig canning endeavor. As a matter of fact, they hardly ever ventured out-of-doors as children, preferring instead to stare like zombies at their electronic devices as their brains grew increasingly inebriated by the mindless mania presented—in living color—before them.
If it never occurred to them that climbing those fig trees, with their low-lying, climber-friendly branches, might be fun, or that feasting on the festive fruit of those trees might actually be refreshingly delightful, then it most assuredly did not occur to them that the tree’s denizens–the incandescent green-clad scarab beetles or “June bugs” as they were more commonly known–could be the objects of hours of soaring, aerial, and ever-so-slightly sinister amusement to a clever-minded lad or lass.
The last time I flew a pet June bug-on-a-string was the most memorable. As I slowly let the thread slip through my fingers, gradually increasing its length, my June bug buzzed, and soared higher and higher, and around and around in ever widening circles. I turned lazily about in my own tight circles; my eyes glued to the brilliant green scarab tethered by its hind leg to the end of the string. I could feel the dizzying euphoria of flight as if it were I flying high instead of the fig-eater beetle at the end of my string. I could feel the vibration—created by the turbulent ferocity of the beetle’s briskly beating wings—buzzing through the string between my fingertips. I was the beetle. I was June bug and the June bug was I.
Suddenly, a jet-black shadow blocked out the sun! All was black! It was as if the moon had suddenly and swiftly moved across the sun, creating an instant solar eclipse. Then, just as suddenly, the bright light of day returned and I watched in dejected awe as my string floated lazily to the ground, twisting and twirling emptily as it fell. I shifted a sorrowful gaze skyward, only to see a black crow gliding away with my June bug clamped tightly in its yellow beak; all six of the beetle’s little legs waving a furious goodbye. “Goodbye June bug!” I cried.