Soldiering on

 

Newbury, Massachusetts

The goldenrod trumpets with its bursting bright yellow flowers. To these golden trumpets of color, the soldier beetles are called. They busy themselves collecting the nectar-bribe given by the goldenrod in exchange for carrying pollen to other flowers. For me, these trumpets of color and the arrival of the solider beetles herald the arrival of another: Fall.

I can remember in Arkansas the arrival of the soldier beetle just about September; a month into the start of school. I used to catch them and try to get them to crawl on my hand like they do on the flowers, but not offering any sort of bribe, they flew off. I collected them in jars, like their lightning bug cousins, and kept them on a shelf. Like their lightning bug cousins, too, this is where they met their fate. Kids are unfit zookeepers.

The soldier beetles seemed to arrive suddenly. And leave just as suddenly, along with the goldenrod. And then the trees blushed and my sleeves grew longer.

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