Have you ever seen a woman who is nine months pregnant trying to dodge a flying object? I imagine it would cause uproarious laughter.
In fact, I can confirm it would cause uproarious laughter, because I am nine months pregnant, I recently tried to dodge a flying object, and people definitely laughed. Uproariously.
Let’s backtrack for a moment and explain that we got warned about a couple of things before moving to Northern Ontario. The first, not surprisingly, was horrifying winters – winters that would literally freeze our bones and our hearts. I spoke to one woman yesterday who moved here two years ago and now has a new threshold for running outside: minus 40. We heard about that time it snowed on Canada Day and all the times you don’t go outside because you won’t be able to breathe.
The other thing we were warned about repeatedly was the bugs. Mosquitoes, black flies, and mysterious creatures called spruce bugs.
I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. I’m not really a fan of bugs – who is, besides an entomologist? – and from my limited experience, I could definitively say that mosquitoes were a prickly pest. I’d met exactly one black fly in my life, and he removed a chunk of skin from near my left ankle. And I had no idea what spruce bugs were, but the people relaying the information suggested they were the worst of the lot.
Still, I was sure we could use bug spray? Light candles? Stay inside forever? I mean, people wouldn’t continue living in Cochrane if it was going to be that bad, right?
Our first real taste of how bad it might get came around the time that I chased mosquitoes inside the house with yoga pants. A few nights later, my husband and I bonded over our ten-minute room-by-room take down of every mosquito we could find. But then Mr. B sealed up a few cracks around the house, and the problem seemed to go away, at least indoors.
In our backyard, going out around dusk was still an issue, but the solution there was easy – just don’t go out around dusk.
But now that the bugs are out in full force, and things like general yard work seem unwilling to take care of themselves, so we’re forced to go outside. And when I say we, I mean mostly my husband, because I’m super pregnant and terrible at things like general yard work.
Here is what happened when he mowed the lawn:
That really bites.
So yeah, it kind of is that bad.
But still. Mosquitoes and black flies seem like the kind of thing we’ll figure out eventually. Heck, we’ve already reduced our mosquito levels, and we have both now learned to wear pants if we’re going out in the yard and it’s below 35 degrees. We know that we have to treat every exit and entry to the house by the dogs as an emergency, because it is, lest the bugs get in.
Spruce bugs, it turns out, are a slightly different matter. These are bugs that fall out of trees onto people and are too dumb to get off so they just kind of latch on and hurt. Or they can’t figure out how to avoid people when they fly, so they just end up on people and are too dumb to get off so they just kind of latch on and hurt. They are maybe two inches long with antennae another two inches long. I tried to Google it to find a photo, but I have no idea what these suckers are actually called – it seems “spruce bug” is just what they’re called locally.
Anyway. I met one the other day. And I’m ashamed to say I screamed and frantically tried to dodge it, knowing that it would not make any effort to dodge me. I was successful in my efforts to avoid physical interaction with the insect, but not with avoiding notice from other people.
Two old women were parked nearby and laughed at me (yes, uproariously). I’m not even mad. I’m sure it was a hilarious sight.
So what’s the lesson in all this? What have I learned?
Well, I think I’m gaining insight into why people live in crocodile-infested swamps or in homes that repeatedly find themselves in the paths of tornadoes. The thing is, no where is perfect. Our home town is well-know for its industrial… uh… stench, for example. Other places have issues with crime, or flooding, or mayors who find themselves knee-deep in cocaine.
Why do people stay in places with all of these issues?
I’m starting to realize that those issues, while making life in that place miserable, can also serve as a platform for the people who live there to commiserate, bond, and laugh. It’s something to talk – or, more specifically, complain – about, and it’s something that everyone understands. Having a commonality – be it cheering for a doomed-to-failure hockey team (yes, I mean the Leafs) or a love-hate relationship with being outside due to lovely weather but horrifying insects – turns a group of people into a community.
Those women weren’t laughing at me. Well, okay, they were. But on a deeper level, they were laughing with me. They had been there. They knew what was going on. They understood.
And once I had recovered from the immediate physical and emotional trauma, I laughed right along with them. Because damnit, I’m from Cochrane now.