The First

leafhopper

The “first” is a bright, special thing many times: first day of school, first love, first job, first child, first grandchild. The moments in which they are realized are never forgotten, irreplaceable and cherished. Sometimes the first can be just as poignant but dark and haunting: first day of school, first heartbreak, first serious injury or disease, first loss. Those firsts can stay with us just as steadfastly. The firsts that stick lend a special significance to the very concept of “the one that came before all the others,” and rightfully so. But in any given moment the first is likely banal, unmemorable, and even undetectable: first step in dog excrement, first nail hammered, first finger licked, first ATM use, first bug squished, first smoke break, first taking out of the trash, first smirk, first button lost, first double negative spoken, first moth seen at the light, first whisper, first time handing your spouse a bar of soap in the shower, first jaywalking, first broken glass, first key mistyped, first pizza delivery, first hand given to help an elder up or down, first fart, first crack in the ground stepped upon, first prolonged stare out of a window, first mosquito bite and first on and on and on. Barring special circumstances we will forget most of these firsts if we ever remembered them at all. We will remember that first kiss and forget that first knuckle cracked, and the firsts will keep coming — and that’s where I find myself as spring approaches. The world is always becoming new, even though it’s so easy to forget.

I saw my first caterpillar of the year last Sunday, and I was excited. Later I was still thinking about it, anticipating the refresh of living things and all their color and buzzing and movement (and hopefully stillness, so I can get a couple shots!), but then I thought: when did I see the first caterpillar last year? Longstoryshort, I could not remember even though I know my reaction must have been one of similar excitement. And that is the way it goes. Every memory has its day, and then the day is over. Every first has its last, and then it turns over like soil for the new crop of firsts. For me, it is sometimes overwhelming; it seems like I am washed away in a stream of loss. So now I look to my tiny subjects for inspiration. They awe me all the time, and I forget them as fast as they fly. The repetition, the numbers, make it easy to forget firsts, seconds and thirds, but they still are special. They become the first again and again, and in that way the first is always there, life always a bright, special thing.

So here it is: my first good shot of the year. It is also Bug Photo’s first member of the Order Hemiptera, a tiny leafhopper. My rough eyeball measurement put it at less than quarter of an inch long in real life. This individual is likely a member of Genus Cerataglia. Leafhoppers are about as benign as you can get, excepting for certain species which are serious agricultural pests. If this is your first look at a leafhopper up close, please feel free to forget it — just remember to return to Bug Photo to see your new first one!

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