A few weeks before the snow started to fly my son found a large, brown Praying Mantis standing on the flecked and peeling paint of our back stairs.She was a good six to eight inches long.The kids captured her by walking her gently into a large see-through salad container.We stared at her, eye to eye, as she investigated captivity, her eyes and rotating head conveying keen awareness.
Later, the kids tell me, they fed her a pincher beetle.Grabbing it with both claws, she pulled off the head and tucked it away under her arm while eating the body. Finishing with the head, she saved the best for last.
They let her go to lay her eggs, to bestow one last gift upon the earth before surrendering the full weight of her being, giving-in to the dark winter’s night.
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This past summer we stumbled across a Praying Mantis standing still in the middle of a spacious, green field of grass. Returning from a walk in the cool, dark woods, the six of us gathered round, casting shadows and the Praying Mantis tilted its head to meet our movements, watching us watch him.
Then we stepped too close and it rose, this large insect eight inches long rose straight up into the air like a helicopter. He was fifteen feet high in a matter of seconds and took off across the field to land some thirty feet away in a patch of wildflowers. Awestruck, we continued our way across the wide, open grass.
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The Mantises are gone now, having fallen back to the earth like the leaves and grasses, the things too fragile for winter’s sharp turn. But I can see them still, the one that rose so suddenly, unhindered, like a prayer launched and the mother-bug plucking and tucking that tender morsel under arm. For these and so many other wonders of the natural world, I am thankful.