Mantis Week!

Stimeyland had an post about mantids, and it reminded me of my family's mantis story. Now there are going to be two two blog posts about mantids. If you're in the social sciences, that's practically a meta-analysis. (JK!)

Growing up, my family had a VW microbus. Dad was a life-long republican, so you can put aside mental images you might have of a tie-dye painted van with a cloud of bluish smoke trailing behind it. On the other hand, he was one of the old-school, self-sufficient, do-it-yourself, mind-your-own-business-and-let-other-people-mind-theirs, sane kind of republicans that once existed, and probably had more in common with the hemp-wearing hippies than today's top republicans.

This was actually our first bus. I have almost no memory of it. I've also spent the last five minutes trying to parse what collection of items is strapped to the roof.

This was actually our first bus. I have almost no memory of it. I've also spent the last five minutes trying to parse what collection of items is strapped to the roof.

That microbus saw a lot of use. We brought home our big, second hand wood stove in the back. Kids were a lot more expendable in those days. It was my job to stay in the back and try to keep the cast iron monstrosity from tipping over and wedging itself permanently between the seats. For the rest of my childhood, our house was heated almost exclusively by that wood stove. In the end, I think we transported over a hundred cords of wood in that bus.

We also used it to bring home the maple sap during the family's syrup-making phase. Important note: when transporting 5 gallon buckets of sap over a mountain, make sure they're really secure. The VW microbus had heat vents along the floor. They kept your toesies warm and also functioned as very effective sap sinks. For years, I craved pancakes and waffles every time we turned the heat on.

Transporting a heifer in the back resulted in an entirely different olfactory experience. Like I said, if there's such a thing as a republican hippy, Dad was it.

By far, our most eventful livestock transporting experience was the time Dad bought some preying mantis eggs somewhere and then forgot to take them out of the van when he got home. It was a warm spring day and you can guess what happened next.

The VW microbus was probably the most spacious ride you could get at the time without driving an actual bus. Just the same, it starts to feel claustrophobic when you suddenly realize you're sharing your space with about a couple hundred miniature versions of a 50's horror movie. The memory of the event came back vividly while I was reading Stimey's post about her recent run-in with the insect world's answer to velociraptors.

At least the cleanup was relatively easy for us. Dad just drove the van into the back yard and parked it next to the vegetable garden with all the windows and doors open. Most of the passengers saw greener pastures and headed out. A few, however, realized there were good pickings in the air vent system. You might have to deal with some pretty high winds from time to time, but it often carried insectiod manna, especially if you could find your way to the air intakes. And of course, there was the entertainment value of occasionally popping your head out of the air vent in front of an unsuspecting passenger. How they knew which ones would be the most squeamish, I've yet to figure out. Good times. Good times.

Anyone else have mantis-related stories?