Blackflies, Hence Wisdom
The summer after I got out of the Army
in February 1968, Chris and I, who had
married while I was still serving, lived at
Mateskared from mid-April into October.
This was, even to this day, my worst ever
experience of blackflies. My family’s habit
of August vacations put us in the “between
season,” as the late Earl Allen often said:
“First the snow flies, then the blackflies.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson would have added:
“Blackflies live up to the brag about them.”
They irrupt like an Old Testament scourge,
begetting fear of the Lord, hence wisdom.
The only thing I could compare them with
were summer mosquitoes in Arctic Alaska,
in 1961, except blackfly bites are far worse
than mosquito bites. Both were scourges
before repellents: 612, then Off, now Deet.
In the Arctic, at Lobo Lake’s Sheenjek River
region on the Brooks Range’s south slope,
I never cleaned a lake fish whose stomach
wasn’t distended with mosquito larvae.
But Adirondack blackfly season is worse.