Monday, February 25, 2008

Panthers, and pigs, and giant bugs...Oh my!!

It started with a low whirring sound. Sort of like the noise a badly maintained car would make while idling, far off in the distance. Occasionally, a chirp would join in for a few seconds. Then, within minutes of the sun going down, it was all around me. And it was loud.

Imagine coming from a place where crickets, tree frogs, and owls sang you to sleep every night. That's Virginia, when you're lucky enough to still have some sort of wilderness close by. Those were the night noises I was used to and had grown to look forward to. In the Summer of 1994, I learned that I had not even begun to realize the number of night critters that exist on this continent - and they all meet up and scare the religion into people in Mississippi, evidently.

My first night as a Magnolia State resident was a sleepless one.

The house that I shared with three other people in Purvis, MS was surrounded on three sides by dense woods. I grew up in the countryside of Virginia, so Purvis was perfectly suitable for me. I didn't count on hearing things within steps of my window that I had only heard in the movies, however.

Whirrrrrrrr! Chirrup! Blickity blickity blickity! Whoooooooop!!

Holy crap. I scrambled out of bed at least a half dozen times to wake my roomate and ask the dumbest question ever, "Did you hear that?!?" Of course she heard nothing unusual and waved me off to bed. Feeling foolish, I would return to my room each time, shaking my head at my silly imagination. Then:

Haaaargablable! Snort snort! Reeeeeeeeeeee!

"Christy. Christy!!", I whispered with panic in my voice, "Something is outside my window".

"Go back to sleep. I don't hear anything".

"No, really! I heard a snort and a weird whirring and a high-pitched noise. PLEASE come to my room and listen", I begged. I was starting to think that the stress of the move was getting to me and I was seconds from cracking up. Christy grumpily followed me back to my room and we stood motionless, in the dark, listening for whatever it was out there.

Whirrrrrr! Craiiiick!

"See!? Did you hear that??", I asked.

"Bugs. It's just bugs", she replied with a yawn and she started to walk out of the room.

Snort! Wraaaaah!

I grabbed her elbow and pulled her back in. "THAT WAS NOT A BUG".

"Oh," she said, "sounds like there might me a wild pig or two out there tonight. Don't worry, they can't get you in the dork", and with that bombshell, she went back into her bedroom and locked the door.

I stood there for a minute. Wild pigs? Bugs that sounded like they might pick the house up and carry it away at any moment? What kind of place was this?? And how in the world was I supposed to sleep? I settled back into bed, hoping that exhaustion would win out over the night frights.

Just as I was starting to get drowsy, I heard Christy's door open again. From the other side of my door she whispered, "If you hear something that sounds like a woman screaming, don't go near the window. The panther might be passing through." Then I heard a giggle and the sound of her door shutting again.

So that's how my first night in Mississippi went down: I was awake, frightened, and a tiny bit weepy. Over the next few years, I got used to the noises and occasional glimpses of elusive panthers and ornery pigs, but I never got used to the orchestra of bugs that I heard during the warm nights.

And, on occasion, I still dream about giant mutated winged bugs flying off with my car.

Article Contributed by: Rebecca Rutledge.