to friends who say "Cool!" and "Sure, bring them over" in gardening situations that might prompt others to say "Ick" and "Are you kidding?!"
This explanation -- our holiday greeting!-- comes to you with our thanks to the Sponsoring friends and apologies to Clement Clarke Moore.
'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring -- well, maybe a mouse.
Plant samples were laid on the table with care,
In hope a close look showed us what to do where.
Our bulbs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of tulip time danced in our heads.
We two at our desks in comfy sweat pants and tees,
Had just settled in for a late night tapping keys.
When from Janet's office there rose such a clatter,
Steven sprang from his chair to see what was the matter.
Enroute he heard mutters and then a, "Good Lord,"
"Just look at what's walking across my keyboard!"
By monitor's light, 'twas like snow dimly lit,
We could see but not photo the objects it hit.
What wonder we felt, like finding Atlantis,
Hiking 'cross QWERTYUIOP -- a miniature mantis.
And wait, now another, so we knew in a flash,
"That mantis egg case wasn't empty - it hatched!"
More rapid than eagles we flew to the table,
Then whistled and shouted, "We won't be able,"
"To catch all these mantids, there must be eight dozen!"
"And what could we feed them, no bugs are a buzzin'!"
Out in the garden, meager options consisting
Of one Brussels sprouts with some aphids persisting.
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
We hurdled that problem and headed for Telly's,
So fifty wee mantids might fill up their bellies.
And there in a twinkling they took on their role,
The predator part in bio-control.
Then we got back to work, Christmas Eve came around,
And inside our chimney we heard a strange sound.
A clatter, a scrabble, then protruded a foot --
A big mantis, all covered in ashes and soot!
A bundle of stuff it had flung on its back,
Which wriggled so we cried, "Don't open that sack!"
Its huge eyes narrowed, our brows began beading,
"Where are the hatchlings," it hissed, "They need feeding!"
Its two spiky pincers drew up like a crab,
And we knew right away to stand back from that grab.
"They're off to a greenhouse where organic is chief,"
"And they have what we're lacking -- good light, lots of leaf."
And Mantis Claus grinned, twitched its supple antennae,
Then shook as it laughed, rasping, "There were so many,"
"I'm amazed you could catch them! Now tell me the way,"
"To this Telly's so I can be sure they're okay."
It cinched its white sack, fixed its hat on its head,
Which gave us to know we had nothing to dread.
It took our directions, scratched them down like a clerk,
Took a last look around, then turned with a jerk.
And folding its legs tight aside its carapace,
It wriggled back into the chimney's tight space.
It cheered as it went, "They'll be learning from lacewings,"
"How to prey on stray whiteflies and plant-chewing things."
We heard it exclaim as it flew out of sight,
"Bless this off season hatch! And forgive this rewrite!"
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