Along the north shore, the first wave of summer bugs has arrived. Before they're done, we'll see their number increase to the many MANY millions. The first to arrive are called midges - although there are quite a few insects around here that are smaller. It seems any small bug can be a midge. Except for the Mayflies. They are called "fishflies." But some locals call midges fishflies, too. The bottom line is: identifying small annoying insects on the lake in not an exact science.
Whatever their taxonomic name might be, the current midges are about a half-inch long, have splayed stance reminiscent of a water strider, bushy antennae like a moth, and they whine like mosquitoes. Their only saving grace is that they don't actually bite - but they do like to get caught in your hair, preferably right beside your ear, so the not-biting thing doesn't really get a chance to sink in. The standard summer gesture around here is walking around fanning your hand in front of your face like you just smelled something bad. You're really just trying to keep from inhaling or eating a midge. Birds, on the other hand, love to eat midges. Starling and grackles work the lawns, dipping and nipping until they have huge midge pom-poms in their beaks, some almost as big as their heads! Then they fly off to stuff the midge-poms into the gaping mouth of some hungry baby. As often as this happens, it doesn't make eve a sliver of a dent in the midge population. And in a short while, when they arrive in full force, the white sides of my house and garage will turn gray with densely-packed (excuse me, I have to rub my face and hair!) midges. In the heat of summer, they form huge clouds high in the twilight. Their collective hum is like some strange background noise left over from the Big Bang; it's very cosmic-sounding! You can even hear the hum indoors if you're standing by an open window!
Last night, I went to the porch to watch the Victoria Day fireworks along the lakeshore, and against the fading light, I watched a tiny bat, working the night shift, busily honing in on any night flying midges. But no matter how many bats and birds and other predators there are, they will still come - the midges and fishflies and their ilk. They might be small but they outnumber the stars!
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.