Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little Buzztards (#173)

For the most part, I’m a nice guy. Ask anybody.

I remove suicidal worms from rainy-day sidewalks and place them on the safety of lawns or dirt. I invite Jehovah’s Witnesses in for a shot of Scotch and am coming around to the idea that Yankee fans might have a right to exist.

See? I’m tolerant as heck. But for the last couple of weeks, on a daily basis, I’ve wantonly ended the life of several critters.

I don’t like mosquitos. At all.

June has been a very rainy month here in southern Ontario. Rain means humidity. Mosquitos love humidity. It energizes them as it enervates us. It seems to give these piranhas of the sky super powers. They can fly faster, farther, with even more malevolent intent.

And they’ve been eating me on my morning and evening walks with Benny. The woodland paths and cedar groves - my favourite areas for walking and loitering - are now no-go zones unless I want to douse myself in repellant.

Now, back in the day, when I used to fish a LOT in mosquito-infested areas, I practically bathed in repellant. This was when you were allowed to buy it in nearly pure, concentrated form - 95% DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide). Then, a few years ago, some lab-coat-wearing non-fisherman decided anything over 25% was hazardous to your health so the government outlawed the strong stuff. (Some of us hoarded a few bottles but don’t tell anyone.)

But back then, I was spending the better part of weeks in bug country. I don’t want to douse myself just for a couple of 30-40-minute walks.

(Oh, and puh-leeze don’t tell me about the repellant properties of a certain skin-care product. Doesn’t work. At least on Canadian skitters. They take one sniff, chortle, tie their bibs around their scrawny little necks and dive in.)

So, I’ve been avoiding the most heavily-infested areas and walking briskly through the so-so ones. But every day I get bitten. Every day I manage to swat a few against some part of my anatomy. Usually after they’ve done the deed of course, so my satisfaction is dimmed somewhat by the fact that the blood I’m splattering is my own.

I’m lucky in a way though. The thousands of bites over five decades have resulted in something of an immunity. I itch for 5-10 minutes after being bitten but that’s usually it. Some folks I know have nasty reactions, a couple even require antihistamines to reduce the swelling.

But just because they now only cause momentary discomfort doesn’t mean I don’t hate the wee beasties.

I remember dozens and dozens of nights when I used to hitchhike all over hell’s half-acre; trying to sleep at the side of some road, scrunched deeply down into my sleeping bag and breathing through a pin-sized hole while voracious skitters circled patiently. They knew I’d fall asleep eventually and loosen my death grip on my breathing hole.

And there were all those nights in cottages, sleep being kept at bay because of the intermittent whine of the tiny vampires as they zoomed past my ears.

I’m pretty sure all Canadians in cottage or camping country have, at one time or another (and in my case, several times) given themselves a concussion by whacking the side of their own head while skitter-swatting in the dark. None of us mind the pain and the stars in our eyes if we obliterate the beast as well. (And sometimes, as a bonus, around the 20th concussion, one can knock oneself right to sleep.)

Oh well. Canadian summers are relatively short. By September Ben and I will be able to reclaim our turf.

By the way, he appears to be supremely untroubled by the little buzztards. Maybe I need to roll in a dead fish now and again.


Hilary said...

Yup, the mosquitoes are fairly aggressive this year. I'm scratching as I type. I'm also laughing as I type.. funny stuff, Frank.

the Bag Lady said...

Good post, Frank. But golly, if you want to see skeeters, come on out here to Alberta (and bring Hilary!) where they're big enough to keep all their feet on the ground while they suckle a cow moose!!
Oh, and bring along some of that super-strength DEET you've been hoarding - we could use some!

(now that's guaranteed to make them want to come for a visit! Dumb, Baggie, really dumb...why'd ya hafta be so freakin' honest?)

Oh, and we have really big fish, too.... :)

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Hilary. :)

Baggie, I've been to Alberta - but admittedly, not in skitter season. I'm willing to accept you folks have whoppers though.

But I can't believe they're any more bloodthirsty than these savages....

But I'd like to wander out west again sometime. And if I do, I'll see if I can talk Hilary into coming along. ;)

Stace said...

You need to grow all-over hair just like Ben. Nice and thick and hard to penetrate. Alternatively, stay inside.

I haven't had a problem with mozzies for a while, but back in the old days when I lived out in the bush, they got pretty damn bad. I remember I was babysitting one night and the mozzies made a feast of the youngest child, then about 2 or 3 years old. She couldn't sleep, she was crying all night, and of course I was getting bitten and irritable too... I think I pretty much gave up babysitting that night!!

Leah J. Utas said...

We drove to Inuvik 11 years ago and we had to wear those miserable bug hats. No choice. It got that bad, and they laugh at sprays. Makes 'em hungrier.
It puts mosquitoes in Alberta in perspective.
Hey, if rolling in dead fish works, then I'd do it too.

MagnoliaGirl said...

I feel for ya, Frank. My skin has always, always been a target for mosquitoes, bees, any kind of crawling, flying, biting thing. The older I get the more I am able to smash these creatures without much regret - not sure what that says about me?!

Good luck!

Reb said...

If you are not allergic to the smell, maybe you could try citronella oil? I am one of those that have nasty reactions, so I put bug spray on anyway.

I am so attractive to the little blood suckers that my friends don't need to use anything when I am around. *sigh*

Jo said...

Piranhas of the sky was great LOL Gah, I hate mosquitoes. In Wisconsin they ate me alive...I remember getting bites between my toes, my ears, the 2-square inches of my back I can't reach. But you're right, the repellent they made back then did the job when I could stand still long enough for my mom to douse me in it.

Maybe you can buy a length of mosquito netting & suspend it from the brim of your hat, ending somewhere around your ankles.

Frank Baron said...

Stace, good suggestions - but I think I'll stick to avoidance when possible and walking quickly when not. :)

Leah, I've worn those too but mostly for blackfly protection. Amazing what we put up with and STILL look forward to summer eh?

Sandra - it says you're a survivor. :)

So...Reb...wanna come over for a walk? :)

Jo, I already have a rep as something of a neighbourhood fashion plate - what with the waders, vest and floppy hat - the ensemble you describe might be overkill. :)

Dianne said...

As a Yankee fan I'd like to thank you for coming round ;)

I too rescue driveway worms and bathroom window spiders and all sorts of little guys.

I am a magnet for buzztards! Believe it or not wearing a dryer sheet - ya know Downy - works.

Don't wear JUST the dryer sheet. Unless you want the attention of course ;)

Put it on your breast pocket or somewhere where enough of the scent will be emitted.

It works!

CrazyCath said...

You write a hilarious story. I just wish (for your sake) it weren't true! I just see those critters putting bibs round their necks.... funny stuff.

And I am soooooo glad you'd invite Jehovah's Witnesses in for a scotch. Now that is a nice guy. I like you. And so will Jehovah if you are kind to his people. ;0) At least we're ahead of Yankee fans... :0)

Frank Baron said...

Dianne, I might just give that a try - although I'd probably druther smell of DEET.... ;)

Thanks for the kind words Cath. You're a good sport (unlike those darn Yankee fans - don't tell Dianne I said that). I'm glad you took no offense because none was intended. :)

Psyche Skinner said...

How about a bed net combined with a the frame of a lampshade on your head ;)

CrazyCath said...

Frank I KNOW there was no offence intended and there is none taken at all! Just popped over to copy a response to your comment at mine and Hilary's reply (thanks for that)...

Now Hilary, Frank. No tiffs on this blog.
I think that probably a space outside is a good idea. I mean, c'mon Frank! If you're gonna collect junk you at least need to hold on to it at YOUR place!

Although I'd like to see Hilary's face if you ever came home with an anchor, or a clown from a fair ride. They definitely would NOT fit on the piano methinks. If they do, I want to know what sort of piano it is. ;0)

Keep smiling!

Frank Baron said...

Psyche - practical AND a stunning fashion statement! I like it. ;)

Cath, Hilary is a dear in many ways, as we all know, but she has Decorating Issues.

When she carries on, I just smile and nod and put stuff on her piano when she's not looking. :)

Kappa no He said...

They actually sell portable mosquito repellers here. Battery operated and small they hang around your neck and send out a forcefield of protection. They've got bracelets too.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I'm so with you on hatred of the skeets.

I grew up where they were rare, so now that I live where they hang out I feel offended and wronged--like I should be able to sue them or something.

Hell, in the U.S. I probably COULD find a lawyer willing to sue a mosquito for wrongful blood-sucking.

Frank Baron said...

Terrie - but do they work? Various electronic gadgets have been tried over here for decades with no success I've ever heard of.

Crabby, you probably could find a shyster to do it. But if you won - what do you collect? ;)

Althea said...

My mood is pretty darn good today. I'm glad you didn't ask me three days ago. Different story then. I'm allowed to have mood swings...I'm female, as you know. Thanks for the note and for asking :) How are you going? I'm ready to come kidnap Benny...I want him... ;) Take care of yourself and I'll catch up with you soon :)

Frank Baron said...

Women are allowed to have mood swings?


Who knew? ;)

Glad you stopped by Althea. :)

Anonymous said...

oh, well. so much for moving to Canada.

(not that they'd have me)

Frank Baron said...

Oh, anon, you'd be surprised. We make room for all sorts of folks and I'd make darn sure we'd be hospitable to someone who reads my blog. ;)