When we moved to Tucson, Arizona from Missouri when I was 11 months old, my parents bought a house in a new subdivision in the southwest area of town. Well, to be accurate, the area was still in the county at that time but by the time we moved away, it was in the city limits.
Having been born and raised in Missouri, the son of a farmer my Dad loved to grow things. In Missouri all you have to do, or so it seemed, was to put some seeds in the ground and something would grow. It didn’t require a lot of care and watering, just weeding and some fertilizer. Our house was located on a corner lot. The street was actually a “u” shape so if you were to drive by our home you could see every part of our yard. He decided to make an oasis in the desert! It was a shock to my Dad when he decided to plant some fruit trees, and they died within the first two months. He also planted grass seed and nothing came up. He ended up having to do something he had never done before….go to a garden shop and ask what to do!
Over the next few years, Dad really did make an oasis out of our yard. We had several large trees and one tall palm tree. He was able to successfully grow 2 peach, 1 plum, and 1 apricot tree. He made flower beds along all the exterior walls, and he finally gave in and planted a cactus garden. We were the envy of the neighborhood because our entire yard was lush green grass. We had a common chain link fence that ran between us and our neighbors on two sides. Dad planted a hedge that ran the length of the fence to provide a little privacy for us.
I used to spend my weekends out in the yard helping my Dad. I was probably more of a nuisance but I thought I was helping. I would pretend I was a princess and I would walk around my kingdom looking for treasure. Sometimes I would hide one of those penny machine rings in the bushes and then be excited when I would “find” it. This came to an end one Saturday morning when I had my brush with death.
I was about 6 years old and I was helping Dad in the yard when I thought I saw one of the rings I had hidden in the hedge. I immediately went into princess mode and I walked around acting like I was out for a stroll because being a royal was really exhausting and I needed a break. I walked over to the hedge and stuck my hand in to grab the “ring” but I didn’t find anything. When I pulled my hand out there was this huge, green, alien sitting on my little finger. It bent its triangular head and bit me. I screamed, threw my hand up as hard as I could, and ran to my Dad! He grabbed my hand and the alien was still attached, so he pulled it off, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it. I got hysterical, convinced I was about to die.
It took a while but I finally calmed down, but then I got mad. My Dad was laughing at me. He then explained that the alien was actually a praying mantis and that it was harmless. He inspected my finger and confirmed there was no bite. I would live!!
Confession time, as old as I am, I still have a strong aversion to praying mantis.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.