The Black Flies Show Up Every May
The black flies showed up right on schedule this year—the first week of May. Melting snows provide just the kind of rushing streams they prefer for breeding; in April, after the fourth- and fifth-grade classes had visited the stream nearest our house and collected water samples, they found thousands of black fly larvae wriggling in their microscopes.
Black fly season lasts about 3 weeks here. The most obvious sign is the outlandish way in which people dress to go out to work in their gardens or around the house. Long sleeves and ankle-length pants are a must, and mosquito nets adorn every head. The town looks like it has been invaded by aliens.
Tough guys (and girls) rely instead on a variety of noisome unguents and goos rubbed into the skin. They look better but smell worse.
We try not to talk about this annual plague. It’s considered citified to complain. What’s more, we’ve just finished whining about the cold and the snow that lingers in the shade.
When we first moved to the country from the city, we tolerated the cold by anticipating the pleasures of a rural spring and summer. After a fortnight of the flies, I asked a neighbor how people who’ve always lived here stand it.
“It makes us look forward to winter,” he explained.