The first clue I had was the envelope addressed to Barnstable Tree Service on the hall table. Then I discovered green caterpillars all over the hood of my car, dead. Clearly, the trees in the yard had been sprayed, an annual event I greet with mixed feelings. Without a doubt, it’s nice to end the rain of poop. We can clean the terrace furniture and know it will last a while. And this scourge of winter moth caterpillars, now in its fifth year, must be hard on the trees. No sooner do they leaf out than their leaves are chewed into lace, a bummer if you’re in the photosynthesis business.

Even so, I told John this year that we should skip the spraying. (At least I think I did, but maybe my ambivalence was all too clear. I don’t think he would have gone ahead if I’d been definite.) First there’s the killing thing; I did take a precept against it. But precepts are more like guidelines than commandments, and I can make an inner argument for killing things that are extremely destructive and annoying. My real concern is my vegetable garden, which I’ve been growing organically for two years. It’s a beautiful thing, and now it’s probably contaminated with drifting pesticide spray from the nearby trees. There was a news article only today linking pesticides with ADHD. I should check my compost heap. A few weeks ago, there were worms in there the size of small garden snakes. If the worms are doing the jitterbug, or worse, if they’re gone, then I’ve got a problem!