We live in the backwoods of nowhere. Almost every day, the dogs and I (and sometimes a couple of the cats) walk on a trail my husband has cut through the woods behind our house. We know Spring Has Sprung when the biting flies arrive. Deer flies, characterized by their brown and buff striped wings and their nasty bite, and horse flies, larger and even more aggressive, whose bite makes you wonder for a second if a snake has reared up and nailed you in the backside.
I have scars that still itch from fly bites that happened over a year ago.
About two weeks after the first fly arrives, the day comes that our daily walk turns into a flee-for-your-life run back home. Then we have a period that lasts from two weeks to a month, in which we stay inside as much as possible. If we’re lucky, these days coincide with the spring rains. We do Spring Cleaning and read a lot, and the mop gets a workout because the dogs decline to go outside, swearing that they really don’t have to potty, nosiree, not at all.
Then the dragonflies arrive. Two weeks after the dragonflies get here, it is safe to go outside again. They follow us on our walks, and we thank them profusely for snatching up the pesky deer flies. On the first official day of summer this year, we were able to walk the entire path through the woods without seeing a single biting fly. I am eternally grateful to the dragonflies, and continue to tell them how much I appreciate their presence and their work on our behalf.
One day last week,
At the beginning of our walk through the woods, a deer fly started buzzing around my head. This is our conversation:
Me: Hey! What are you doing here? Hey! Quit that! (Here’s me, walking faster, swatting ineffectually at the fly who is dive-bombing my shoulders and circling around my head.) I thought y’all were gone! Don’t you have anything better to do than pester me?
The fly: I have to eat, too, you know. If I don’t eat, nobody that eats me eats, either.
Me: Yeah, I know you are an important part of the food chain and everyone depends on you. I just wish you wouldn’t feed on me.
The fly: You think you’re more special than a deer or a possum or a rabbit? Don’t you want to be part of the circle of life? Why should you be exempt? Don’t you want to do your part? Everybody else does.
Me: Okay, you’ve got me there. I agree that everybody ought to contribute.
The fly: Every frog wants a fat, juicy fly to eat. I’m just helping out, too, you know.
Me. Okay, okay. Fine. But just let me warn you; I am much better equipped than most to swat you when you bite me, and I might not be able to help myself. Go ahead and bite me if you want, but you might end up squashed for your efforts, before a frog gets the chance to eat you. Your circle of life might end right here and now if you bite me.
The fly didn’t reply. He left the vicinity at that point.