We find a spot in the shadow of an oak and open up our folding chairs. Sun slips through the black branches above. Spanish moss sways to the music of rustling leaves. An expanse of grass spreads out before us.
My wife sometimes tells me that the grass in the South is too crunchy, that she misses the softness of northern varieties, lush under her bare feet. But she doesn’t mention it today.
We don’t say much. There is little to be said. I read a few pages of my book before taking a break. My eyes follow as two lemon butterflies chase each other, fluttering and swirling, painting patterns in the air. Off in the distance, the laughter of a child tumbles upwards.
I watch my wife flip through her magazine. I reach out and touch her arm, tickling it with the tips of my fingers. She looks at me from behind her sunglasses and smiles. I smile back.
We go back to reading, and a falling acorn smacks the ground a few feet away. I pause to ponder the odds of the next one hitting me. I decide they’re slim.
“My butt is falling asleep,” she says, standing up. She shuffles past a twisted twig that looks like a snake and out into the light where she raises her hands in a stretch.
There’s a commotion in the grass near her feet, and she bends down to survey the area. “Something strange is going on over here.”
“A little bug is chasing this big red bug.” She purses her lips and pauses for a few seconds before continuing, “Come see.”
So I climb out of my chair and I march over to inspect the scene. She’s right. A little black bug, maybe some kind of wasp, is riding on this bigger bug that looks like a tandoori-colored bulldozer. The wasp is crawling all over the bigger one, and it takes a minute for it to register that he’s stinging it, that some mysterious poison is filling the big one, that it’s too late to save it.
The sound of a plane leaving from the nearby airport rumbles in my head. So I look away from the mayhem, and this departing airplane’s ascent pierces the pristine blue of the sky. I think of the people onboard, returning home or setting out on new adventures. And I wonder if, in their travels, they ever notice the strange interactions of bugs in the grass.