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.