Pamela vs. Mothra

Every so often I feel the need to get back to nature. This means leaving behind every useful electronic appliance I have come to love and cherish and go somewhere where there are lots of trees, bugs and deer.

The deer meander through my campsite as if to say, Ha! I'm in a state park and you can't shoot me! Neener neener neener!" Deer say this more than you might think. They just say it under their deer breath so you can't hear them. That way you will still consider them cuddly and have no desire to make them into little deerburgers if they should happen to set a hoof out of state park boundaries.

This is, in fact, fine with me because I still suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome from having watched Bambi lose his mother. So I would never kill something so adorable and fuzzy.

Unless of course it's an insect that made the critical error of entering my home and/or campsite. Insects are not fuzzy, at least not in ways that entice me to caress them. Unless your definition of "caress" involves being struck repeatedly with a rolled-up magazine until you are an unrecognizable blob. If that's the case, then I outdid myself caressing wildlife this weekend.

I drove the North Cascades Highway to Winthrop, Wash. I've never seen so much wilderness in my life. It inspired me. If you've ever driven that highway, you know why they close it somewhere around October and don't reopen it until the crack of summer, right before they close it again. It's scary to drive that road, especially when there are no guardrails on vertical drops of oh, say, a gazillion feet. I can't imagine attempting that drive when there is snow on the ground.

There was so much that awed and inspired me while I was out caressing nature this weekend. First of all, there were the moths. I've seen moths before. They come and hover around my porchlight at night.

I have never seen them in such numbers as I did this weekend. Clouds of them descended on my lantern every time I switched it on so I could see where I was walking in the dark. I don't know if you know this, but once you leave the city, it's dark. I mean really dark. This means that when the tiniest speck of light appears in the wilderness, it is immediately seen as an invitation for the entire moth population within a five-mile radius to flutter to your light for a big moth party.

I found out that I have trouble holding onto a lit lantern with one hand, batting away clouds of moths with the other while screaming like a girl. OK, I am a girl, but that's beside the point. I also discovered that hitting yourself in the head with a lantern to scare moths away doesn't work as well as you might think.

I tried turning the lantern off but discovered that whole dark thing again. If I wanted to get back to my campsite, I was going to need the light. I stumbled, screeched and batted my way back to the campsite playing Pied Piper to a quarter-million large moths engaged in dive bombing my lantern, mostly missing and hitting my face. I had no rolled-up magazine handy, hence there was no caressing of nature at that point.

I did, however, mutter under my breath something about moths being dumber than dirt and for crying out loud didn't they realize that the light would eventually kill them? Being a moth magnet wasn't a whole lot of laughs.

And screaming was dangerous as well because I had to open my mouth to do so and then I found myself spitting out moth parts. I know that a diet high in protein is beneficial, but since I didn't know the nutritive value of a moth, I decided to pass. And spit. And spit some more.

On the drive home the next day I was enjoying a lovely, moth-free moment in the refreshing light of day when I decided I needed some music to suit my moth-free mood. I reached up to pull my visor down to grab a CD, and the MOTHER OF ALL MOTHS was sitting there on my CDs just waiting for me. This monster must have been weaned on radioactive Miracle Gro, because it was enormous. Pulling down the visor was its cue to fly directly into my face. I think it was angry that I'd maligned its species the night before and spat out several of its relatives.

I'm driving approximately 65 mph on a windy rural road, and suddenly I'm screaming and batting at my face. This isn't safe, but the moth doesn't seem to mind that I'm having a near-death experience. All it wanted was a little moth revenge.

I really think that hiding in my visor, all snuggled up to my CDs, was a very ingenious moth plot to make me act like that blond woman in the movie "The Birds." Luckily for me, moths don't have the capabilities to gouge my eyes out.

I think it's still hiding in my vehicle somewhere. I'm sending hubby outside with a rolled-up magazine to do some serious moth caressing before I get into that vehicle again.

Freelance columnist Pamela Troeppl Kinnaird lives in the greater Seattle area.

Her column appears in the News the first and third issues of every month.

Write to her at

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