Frowning at my garden, the only stodgy, grumbly neighbor I have says, “Why do you grow all that stuff when you could just go to the grocery store?” Because, when I step outside there’s no grocery store but there is a garden. Of course I don’t think to say this until weeks after the neighbor’s comment and if I knocked on his door today and made my declaration I’d look like a looney.

The raspberries grow about 10 feet from the front door and luscious raspberries they are. Before breakfast I pick a healthy handful to put on my cereal. This is only one of the many joys and rewards of having an organic garden.

The fly in the ointment about this joy and reward is not a fly at all but Japanese beetles who dive bomb past my ears in a most annoying fashion while I’m picking. Last season they chawed the leaves of some of the pole beans, making them look like lace doilies, and this year they’re doing it in the raspberries.

Passion in the Raspberry Patch – Image courtesy of D. Gordon E. Robertson

It also looks like they’re doing IT in the raspberries. For Japanese beetles the raspberry plants are one big Motel 6 at bartime. There are so many copulating beetles that it’s embarrassing, definitely not a sight for the morally stodgy, like my grumbly neighbor. Some of them, the beetles not the morally stodgy, get a threesome together with two participants and one observer, or maybe the third one is waiting in line. I haven’t stuck around to discover the protocol.

Actually, they haven’t stuck around because whether I catch them flagrante dilecto or making doilies, I flick them off the raspberry leaves indiscriminately, the way you might flick a booger off your thumb. Who knows, it could be the best sex they’ve ever had.

As a matter of entomological information, Japanese beetles do it doggie style. It looks like a tiny hump-backed (pardon the expression) 1950’s Volvo with an iridescent metallic paint job mounting a similar 1950’s Volvo. Two tiny 1941 Fords could be substituted for the Volvos if you wish.

This flicking off of the beetles demonstrates something of a move on my part toward semi-sensitivity for the little metallic creatures. Last season in the pole beans I flung them in a bucket of soapy water where they drowned.

It’s discomforting to know that I’m capable of committing violence against these little bugs, even though they are obnoxious. Come to think of it, they’re not any more obnoxious than the stodgy neighbor, although he’s too big for either flicking or drowning in a bucket of water.

The trend with Eno vs. the Beetles is definitely toward compassion. Next year, or maybe even yet this year, I might let them be. I doubt they’re capable of destroying the whole garden, not even the whole raspberry patch.

And tomorrow I just might pick two handfuls of raspberries, one handful for my cereal, and one for the stodgy neighbor who doesn’t have a grocery store outside his front door, either.