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  1. The Arthropods' Weekly Bulletin/

Konny and the blues — Diary of a 26-legged being

·4 mins

Dear diary,

Today is another one of those days. You know, the ones where I want to crawl back into the darkest corner of the cellar and just forget that I have 26 legs that all demand something from me. It’s been raining since early morning and the puddles on the floor are getting bigger and bigger. If this continues, we’ll soon be flooding again and I can’t help but think of the terrible conditions last year. I shiver at the memory of how the water flowed into our hiding places and we all had to swim for our lives.

To lift my spirits, I pulled out my old record player and put on some blues. Nothing calms my nerves like the mellow sounds of Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf. So here I sit, snuggled up behind a piece of damp wood, trying to concentrate on the music while the rain pelts incessantly against the basement windows.

But it’s not just the weather that’s getting to me today. It’s the life as a rough woodlouse. People often think that we have it easy just because we are small and can hide in dark corners. But they know nothing of the challenges that a 26-legged life entails. Even getting up in the morning is a feat of strength. Seven pairs of walking legs need to be coordinated, and that’s before I even think about my five pairs of leaf legs. And then there are my two uropods, those strange little appendages that always seem to get in the way. Sometimes I wonder if life would be easier if I had fewer legs. But then I remember that each of my extremities has an important function. Even without my uropods, nothing would be possible because they help me to keep my balance and sense danger. Nevertheless, it’s a constant back and forth and I always have to make sure I don’t stumble.

In the early afternoon, Mio the fly came by. Mio is a tourist from Barcelona who is spending a few days here. He fluttered in, wet and exhausted from the rain, and told me about his adventures in the city. It was nice to see someone else and chat a bit, even if Mio spent most of his time in the air and had to shake himself constantly to get the drops of water off his wings.

“The weather is really unpredictable,” Mio said as he sat down on an old, rusty pipe. “In the past, it rained as well, but not all of a sudden and so intensely. This must be due to climate change. No matter where you are in Europe, it’s getting more and more dangerous for small beings like us.”

Mio was right. The summers are becoming hotter, the winters colder and the storms more severe. The last flood took us all by surprise. I still remember the panic and chaos as we tried to leave our hiding places and find somewhere dry. Many of my friends and relatives didn’t make it back then. “It’s just awful,” I said to Mio. “Every time it rains, I’m afraid it will happen again. And the worst thing is that I can’t do anything about it. I’m just a little woodlouse. What can I do?”

Mio fluttered closer and placed one of his tiny legs comfortingly on my shell. “You’re not alone, Konny. We’re all fighting against the changes. But we mustn’t give up. Maybe there’s not much we can do, but we can support and look out for each other.” The blues continued in the background and I felt my tension slowly easing. Mio told me stories of the bustling streets of Barcelona, the warm rays of sunshine and all the delicious leftovers he found there. For a moment, I forgot about the rain outside and the worries about flooding. I imagined what it would be like to live in a warmer, drier city without the constant fear of flooding.

Soon, though, Mio had to move on. He still had a lot to do and I didn’t want to keep him. “Take care of yourself,” I said as he took his leave. “And thank you for stopping by.” “Take care!” Mio called out before flying out of the cellar in an elegant arc. “I’ll see you again soon!”

When he was gone, I returned to my little hiding place. The rain hadn’t stopped, but somehow I felt better. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the conversation with Mio, or maybe it was just the realization that I wasn’t alone. Whatever it was, I felt stronger and determined to get through the day. I’m hoping for better weather, dear diary. Maybe the rain will stop and I can see some sun again. Until then, I’ll keep listening to music and try to keep my legs under control.

Your Konny