Not crawling up my arm, not in my bok choy. Not munching on skin cells in the folds of my mattress. I love insects in their natural habitat, or on the pages of a book, articulated in pen, pastel, or in a wash of watercolour. I love to draw bugs. They are impossibly intricate and lovely, up close. I used to be terrified of creepy crawly things, and I am ashamed to say I stepped on ants, and other insects beetling along sidewalks and pathways, oblivious to humans, concerned only with his or her own buggy life. Now, I almost throw myself off the trails trying to avoid stepping on a bug. The other day, I found myself staring at a dead bee in a windowsill at a bus shelter. I felt a pang of sorrow for the bee, but more than that, I was fascinated by it’s beauty, even in death. I wondered how I could transport this fragile creature home in my pocket for further study and perhaps a drawing. In the end, I left the bee where it was, and eventually walked out into the rain and caught my bus. I’m not willing…yet…to be publicly weird.
As a reformed entomophobic, it’s hard to say how I got to here from there, but I suspect walking in the river valley for 15 years has helped. You either learn to walk in harmony with nature, or you run screaming like a six year old every time a tiny creature flaps it’s wings. A book like Crickwing, by Janell Cannon, does a great service by bringing the lives of the small and the unloved to eye level, for our consideration, education, and hopefully, our appreciation. And Cannon’s illustrations are simply stunning. Not stinging. Stunning.