Saturday, June 30, 2012

angry birds and bugs: summer in the south

My parents moved twice in three years: when both my older brother and I were freshmen in college. This little trick serves to throw a wrench into the summer social life of a college student. My high school friends were all 400 miles away and so for "fun" I'd help my mom harvest beans from her garden: a garden so large we could have opened a produce stand out front. What was my dad thinking?

Beyond our property was a scrubby field and woods, home to a variety of animals and most notorious: blue jays. Aggressive and greedy, these birds have a real attitude. They used to dive-bomb our cat, and there must have been something of interest in the garden because they also dive-bombed me. One scorching hot afternoon as I bent over the bean plants in my swimsuit top, sweat pouring off me, something swooped and swooshed against my bare back. I looked up in time to see a blue jay take off beyond the garden.

I was so freaked that it took some doing for mom to coax me back to the garden. What was to stop another bird from pecking a hole in my back?

Of similar, or worse, temperament are horse flies: the blue jays of the insect world. Those same college summers, I threw away my brain and agreed to camp counseling jobs in the backwoods east of Memphis, Tennessee. This is the Mississippi Delta, were the humidity is 125% and the mosquitos, chiggers and horse flies outnumber everything and everyone. Kamp Kiwani boasted a fabulous horse camp, which attracted horse-loving girls and a healthy horse fly population. Not only do horse flies love horses, they also are attracted to water.

Each night in the bath house, I'd make sure I had my soap, shampoo, and towels in order. A washcloth was handy for whacking the horse flies, who would join us in the bath house and bite us as we showered. If you were still in your cabin, you could hear the vicitims' screams coming from the bath house. Like blue jays, horse flies are aggressive and will attack boldly, unprovoked. I detest them for this reason. Their bite hurts like heck.

And so, in the midst of our midwest heat wave, how I appreciate air conditioning. No one is making me pick beans, and I have yet to see a horse fly in my shower. Thank you, Lord!


nathandawkins said...

That's summer in the DEEP south, my friend. Here in the refined, congenial south, we have not angry birds or horseflies.

-d said...

We have horseflies in Ohio, too. Swimming in my grandparents' lake in the summertime, my cousins and I would yell, "Horsefly!" and either slap the other person's head to kill the beast or let the victim dunk underwater quickly to get it off.