MSG and Japanese Beetles

An Ode to MSG

Framed in your pearl white plastic portrait, I tuck you in to sleep. You nestle among tupperware filled with cold spaghetti and pot roast. Overnight your sweet, sticky sauce migrates into the rice and vegetables, embedding its flavor in everything it touches. The fresh, cool blast of refrigerated air releases your crispy broccoli from its structure, allowing it to relax and soften. Your house rice hardens around midnight. Your savory chunks of sesame chicken settle into the extra congealed sauce, creating tiny delicious statues. The clear lid blankets your case through the night, protecting my favorite leftovers from the intruding scent of defrosting scallops.

The night passes and I’ll be upstairs sleeping in a sedated state, dreaming in excitement of the morning. Ah, the morning! When I can scurry down the stairs, throw open the refrigerator door, pick you gently from the choice of eager containers and thrust you into the microwave. The electrified light throws a bright halo around your borders for a full minute until steam clouds the view. A loud “beep…beep…beep…beeeeeep” signifies that you are finally reheated. With a fork in hand and a mouth-watering grin, breakfast is served.

Japanese Beetles: A Love-Hate Note

Dew is nestled into leaves and blades of grass, it’s early enough that the summer heat hasn’t burnt it away. I park my car past the gardening shed and take my time putting on my gloves, wool socks, and boots. I grab my water bottle and tool belt and walk back towards the shed to start my workday. Meanwhile, you are still engorged with sleep. Your stomach full of late night snack makes you lazy; my chance to strike, and your downfall. I find a small makeshift dish and fill it with one part organic detergent, two parts hose water and make my way towards the plants you’re guarding as if they’re yours.

I keep my weapons near my feet while I sneak leaves and flowers apart in search. Of you. Large holes left by your constant nibbling have started to damage this rose bush. The petals have wilted, turning the creamy white flower to browned, curling edges. A hint of premature death. Even the thin, thorny branches can’t pierce your iridescent shell. A turn of the wrist and there you are. I’ve stirred a collection of five of you, but in the early morning, your motivation to flee is non-existent. I hold the soapy water-filled dish in my left hand and cup my right hand over your leafy bed. You don’t realize you’re being hunted until after I’ve let you fall into the dish, into your death. I appreciate this constant battle. Your keen resiliency versus my round-the-clock tactics. We exist because of the other. I nurture the flowers, your dinner. And you attack my work, driven by a hungry stomach.

These are two letters written from a #500WordsEveryDay prompt: to write a letter to an aspect of nature and an aspect of culture. My aspect of nature is hunting for Japanese beetles as a gardener. My aspect of culture is leftovers, specifically Chinese food leftovers-my favorite! Hope you enjoy.

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