In 2010 my school district sent me to Baltimore, Maryland for a couple of weeks to get the training for an upcoming course that the district was offering. It was great! I met a lot of new friends, got the training that I needed, ate yummy food, and went to Washington, D.C. for the weekend. Okay, the National Mall is a little overwhelming. I only had the one day to visit as many sites as I could. The Vietnam Memorial. The World War II Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial. The Washington Monument (hey… the White House is right over to the right…). The National Archives. The Smithsonian Museum. THE SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM!!!
You know that I had to go into the Smithsonian.
I didn’t have a lot of time once I got into the museum, but they had an exhibit about Charles Darwin and the Evolution of Evolution. Wow. There was no way this little BioGeek and teacher of biology was going to miss that! We only had an hour but of course I raced through the exhibit getting what I could out of it and then into the giftshop for a couple of mementos.
Let’s take a closer look at the necklace that I had to buy as soon as I saw it.
Oh, my goodness. I just loved June bugs when I was a kid. We would find them clinging to the side of the big elm tree in the backyard. Bright, iridescent green, big and slow moving, they were easy for us to catch and haul around. We used to tie a thread around their bodies and let them fly in a circle around us. You could sport them on your shirt as shiny and unique jewelry. They were quite the find when I was a little kid.
I don’t think that my parents were as excited about the June bugs as we were. The larvae are major pests as they mature in the ground, chomping down on any roots or organic materials that they can get their little mouthparts onto and damaging the lawn. Then there were the adult beetles. Um… my mother grew this big patch of boysenberry bushes that we harvested fruit from all summer. She would send us out with little pails to pick (and eat) the berries that she turned into endless jars of jam and countless cobblers. She loved her berries. So did the June bugs. I kind of think that’s why we could always find one in our yard on hot June days.
In her later years my mom grew a big patch of berries along the fence of her yard. Instead of June beetles she battled gophers in her yard; the gophers tunneled through the yard and build a minor mountain under the spreading canes of the berry plants. My eldest son became a berry picker himself and took glee in chasing the gophers with my mom, wielding a garden hose in battle as the gophers practically laughed at them. She still managed to produce several cases of berry jam each summer, but I’m pretty sure that she would have swapped the gophers for June bugs in a heartbeat.
Today I live in Colorado and there isn’t a June bug in sight. It gets too cold here in the winter to grow boysenberries and I have to resort to buying blackberries at the summer fruit stands. I still have that cobbler recipe that my mom used (it came from a flour bag in the 50’s), and every year I make blackberry cobbler and think that maybe I should make some jam, too.
Why did I have to buy the June bug necklace? After all, it has been never worn, but is still treasured.
Because the second I saw it that hot June day in Washington, D.C. I was instantly transported back to my childhood, picking boysenberries, covered in scratches and berry juice, playing with June bugs in the summer heat of a Southern California day.
p.s. Do you feel the urge to make your own berry cobbler? I blogged about it here.