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Thursday 13 Jun 2024

The Eureka Moment
David Simmonds

Source: welcomewildlife.com

When Nigel Hempstead peered into his bowl of Cheerios, the other morning, he observed an earwig floating in it. Immediately, he thought he had been caught in one of those, “Hey waiter, what’s this fly doing in my soup?” jokes. Thus, he spent a few moments trying to drum up a droll riposte. “Sir, he couldn’t find a parking space at Lake on the Mountain” was the best he could produce, on the spot.

On second thought.

His second reaction was more profound. Finding the earwig in his cereal was in fact his Eureka moment. It was worthy of contending with Archimedes in his bathtub or Newton sitting under his apple tree.

Why hadn’t he made the connection before? The County is overrun with earwigs this year. They’re everywhere. Earwigs are in your shoes, your washbasin, your bedsheets, your curtains.

Earwigs have no redeeming social purpose. They’re ugly. Our Instinctive reaction is to stamp the heck out of them, without any remorse or acknowledgment of the Buddhist principle of the sanctity of all forms of life.

Then Hempstead remembered that in the last few years, there has been a burgeoning industry in crickets, which can be dried, incinerated and turned into perfectly acceptable, albeit slightly crunchy, foods for humans. What was to stop him from doing the same with earwigs, he wondered.

A little research led him to the conclusion that, at worst, earwigs had no deleterious effect on humans. In fact, earwigs could make a great filler to accompany some other zesty food, such as tofu or hummus. According to the Backpacker website, “Earwigs are edible and safe to eat. They don’t have stingers. They don’t have venom. When compared to insect alternatives, such as woodlice, grubs, scorpions and slugs, ear wigs start looking pretty good.”

Here he was in the County, overrun with earwigs. He thought of the highly successful campaign, in China, during the Great Leap Forward to eradicate the Four Pests: mosquitoes, rats, flies and sparrows, without using any fancy machinery, but good old-fashioned volunteerism of billions of ordinary Chinese. If, he reasoned, he could secure the co-operation of billions of County residents, he would have an abundant supply of earwigs to form the raw material for his product.

What sort of food product does Hempstead plan to prepare from all his earwigs? “That is still being worked out,” he admitted, “but it will be somewhere between a granola bar and an after-dinner mint. If that doesn’t work, we can always sell it to some hamburger chain as meat filler.”

Once he is seized by an idea ...

Hempstead is not one to sit around until doubts overtake him. He has leased an abandoned cheese factory in the County and received approval in principle for a $10 million forgivable loan from the federal government to convert the facility into an earwig roasting plant. He is offering to pay local earwig collectors to bring him their spoils, for which he will pay them five dollars per quart.

“The County is not Red China.,” he notes. “You’ve got to give people a bit of a financial incentive to collect and drop off their dead earwigs.” This he will do.

The involvement of County residents won’t stop with supplying the insect raw material. Someone must sample the Hempstead concoctions and advise what works and what doesn’t. “County people have sophisticated palates,” he says, “so they can stomach pretty much anything.”

When it comes to marketing his product beyond the borders of the County, Mr. Hempstead will also be looking for County residents to be ambassadors and offer testimony to the freshness and tastiness of his product. ‘Fortunately, County people are good at appearing enthusiastic, too,” he notes.

Hempstead points out that his product’s association with the County’s good name will count. “I can see it now,” he says. “Made from genuine Prince Edward County earwigs. The original and still the best.” His main marketing hook is, again, relying on County people to create and innovate. “I’ve been toying with the concept of Just Chew It,” he asserts. “But I realize that’s a bit derivative.”

Hempstead sees the scale of the earwig business surpassing the County’s mushroom business in as little as five years, “It is bound to bring tons of high paying jobs into the County,” he asserts, “enough for people to dream of being able to afford to rent a campsite in the County.”

Hempstead dreams of the County embracing the earwig as its official insect symbol and of it hosting an annual earwig festival in June, when earwigs are at their most plentiful. He envisions a parade down Main Street, earwig bake-offs and earwig impersonator contests.

He also envisions eHnew mascots, tentatively named Erroll and Esme Earwig, to build bonds with young people and keep them wanting to come back to the County again and again. “It’s not too soon to get started on this idea,” he says. “I hear Peterborough is thinking of starting a Bedbug festival in early July. We will want to nip any potential competitors in the bud.”

We need more thinkers such s Hempstead.

If only more of us were big dreamers. If we had ideas, such as those of Hempstead, they might never see the light of day. May we all pray that our dreams turn into such Eureka moments as his.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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