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As Trudy tossed and turned in the pre-dawn hours of the morning, as Charlie wandered around the house dazed and confused, as Miss Izzy tried unsuccessfully to sneak outside to bark at the night creatures, as BBC played on the radio, I was repeatedly falling back asleep. Because… well my wheels are weary.

After the sun had risen and Trudy had made coffee, I pulled myself out of bed.  I slipped into my sandals, looked out onto the backyard and announced, “There’s only one thing I’m going to do in the yard today.” (Only one thing, because there are many first-year teacher things to do today, before next week begins.)

I got the pitch fork from the garage, and I went to consolidate our two compost piles into one, both of them having cooked down over the summer to about half their original 3 foot height.

I pitched the decay from one pile into the other, periodically slapping at the fire ants nipping at my toes. We’ve had a lot of rain, lately, and the pile was wonderfully moist, and frankly mostly finished. Still, I tossed fork-load after fork-load onto the other pile… and then stopped. There was something in the original pile.

I bent over and picked up three Giant Stag Beetle grubs. 

I have mentioned these before. The larvae look exactly like a june bug grub but larger — much larger. If you’re not comfortable with bugs and critters, these are the stuff of nightmares: wet-looking, soft, curled up, with wiggling legs and nasty looking mandibles. They fill the palm of your hand.

I set the grubs on a board and I walked to the screen door. Trudy was in our almost-finished kitchen/dining room putting away dishes in the almost-finished cabinets. 

“Hey Trudy?”

“Hey David?”

“Come look at this.” 

She walked to the door and looked out. 

“Wow!” she said.

Trudy is a cheerleader of critters and bugs, and it’s been a few years since we saw evidence of these. So it was indeed a moment to celebrate: we had not just one grub, but three. She went to get her camera and came out to document the occasion.

Meanwhile, I returned to pitching loads of leaves, but progress was slow. With every fork-load, I found two or three more grubs.

As Trudy walked back into the house, I announced, “We have at least a dozen!” Minutes later, it was two dozen. And then it was more than three.

It was a veritable beetle bomb!