Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Sing a Song of Summer

The sun is shining. The air is dry. I am putting laundry on the line as fast as I can wash it, lest the weather deteriorate. Environment Canada's weather forecast is for possible rain tomorrow and then two days of sun. Unfortunately we had 3/4" of rain yesterday afternoon in as many minutes and so the door and decks that need paint and stain are too wet to work on. The rain also whomped my geraniums and the blooms are now all drooping or hanging their heads; I should really have dragged all the planters under the eaves when the sky turned black. Oh, well. More buds are popping up daily.

We have all been noticing how beautiful the wild flowers are this summer. The Queen Anne's lace is thicker than I have seen it since I was a child in Essex County, there are cornflowers and black-eyed Susan and buttercups and Canterbury bells and purple loose strife in quantities all along the roadsides, plus others that I do not know the names of; little yellow ones and big yellow ones and a spiky purple one and ....! Lots. And I am told the wild raspberries are good -- I will go and investigate after I get the wash line filled. A day in the sunshine, indeed.

Tomorrow I guess I will spend ironing. Such are the vagaries of housework in the land of little summer. At least we don't have forest fires this year. The newspaper has a photo of a house that was totally burned following a lightning strike yesterday, but I doubt you could get the forest to burn if you worked at it. Poor old B.C. has the opposite problem. I wish we could sent them a few days' worth of this waterfall we are having. I may also get at the windows since they haven't been washed yet this year, between my bad back and the weather. And vacuum the earwigs off the floors.

I don't know if earwigs are as much of a plague elsewhere as they are in southern and eastern Ontario. They are nasty, black crawly critters, mostly completely harmless but loathsome. They get into and under and between things and squish horribly when stepped on. I have bait out and am spraying poison into the dark, damp patches under the porches where they breed, but nothing stays through the rain and they can get into the house, I am not sure how. They also eat plant leaves, which plays hob with the landscaping. And they like toothpaste, for one. You haven't lived until you have picked up a toothbrush to put in your mouth and found an earwig clinging to it.

We also, of course, have biting bugs outside in huge quantities - mosquitoes love the rain and subsequent puddles. And we have deer flies in the bush and horseflies everywhere else. When I was a kid my parents had a cottage on Lake Erie, close to Point Pelee. In August the horseflies would arrive and the thing I hated most was that they would land on you when you were swimming and bite. I learned to be a champion underwater swimmer because of those flies. We don't have many of them close by, but we do have the smaller, vee shaped deer flies and they bite just as hard.

Deer flies will go for your hair and ears and the backside of your arms and your ankles and if you don't notice them land they take a noticeable chunk of flesh out and leave you cursing and bleeding. I am pretty well immune to mosquito bites - there is a mark for a few minutes and then it disappears - but the deer fly bites fester and itch for days. We have a neighbour who goes for walks with a butterfly net, waves it around himself, catches the deer fly and squishes it. You can also buy sticky strips which attach to your hat and the flies land and stick to the strip, buzzing and struggling until they finally die. Neither of these methods is perfect protection, but they do give the sufferer some satisfaction.

The biting flies will be gone in six weeks or so, but the mosquitoes last until frost, around Canadian Thanksgiving, if the summer has been wet. I don't want to live in the city but dwellers in the bush do pay a price for the absence of traffic noise, pollution and people. It is a price I am prepared to pay. I have two hummingbird feeders up and there is a newly fledged family at each of them, buzzing and cheeping and being chased off by the alpha male. There are also lots of American goldfinch around, blitzing the nyger feeder (a big bag of nyger seed costs about $80.00 but it's worth it.) We had a juvenile blue heron on the roof, of all places, on Monday. It flapped clumsily away and I hope it gets better flying skills soon. I love the birds, and that is only one of the joys of living 'in the bush'.

My favourite spot this time of year is our screened porch. It sits a storey above ground and is surrounded by trees, making you feel as if you are in a tree house. Nuthatches run up and down the adjacent tree trunks, the wind makes a wonderful noise in the leaves and cools you as you sit in the shade. And all the wretched flies are outside, frustrated.

I had planned on adding a lot of pics to this post, but the laundry machines are buzzing and it is almost lunch time. I may get back to it, she said, laughing.


  1. shuddering at that picture. they're almost lobster-like.

    and on the toothbrush? shudder, shudder.

  2. It is a mark of how much I love Canada that I keep coming back, year after year, even though the mosquitos LOVE me and each bite turns red and hot and itchy and I get a raised angry rash the size of a teaplate. Around each bite. And it lasts for days.

    Tell me if I ever end up living in your fair country that I will develop immunity, will you?

  3. One of the perks of living in this here desert is: no bugs. I leave my screenless doors open all day and I only get flies, pretty much. And spiders. And we do have fruitflies. But, I mean to say, they're not such a nuisance that I feel I ought to close the doors.

    The downside? Gardening is SO HARD!

  4. These days, we tend to avoid the cottage in summer if possible. The bugs are too much. I know all about swimming and horse flies at this time of year. What a plague!

  5. I hate bugs in the house, we once had an infestation of earwigs during a rainy spell. Did you know they will pinch with those pinchers on the end of their tails. I was pinched once.

    Enjoy your summer days.

  6. Yeah, I've tangled with earwigs before, too. And a lot of green-headed flies at the shore - they leave a double puncture wound like a miniature vampire, but they're slow so you can usually kill 'em.

    Would love to see some flower shots.

  7. Lil' Stuff and the ED arrived today - and nary a biting insect to be seen in the front range, and the sun was shining right up until a stupendous thunderstorm. All well here, but I am keen to see a picture of the glass tea pot!

  8. The bugs and I have a long-standing agreement. I stay out of swampy, bushy areas and they don't come to the city to bite and annoy me. It's worked out really well so far.

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