Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Muggy, Buggy, and HOT!

Ahh, summer in the South. We moved to the South last August, just about one year ago now. I was unprepared for the wave of moist heat that hit me when we walked out of the airport. It felt nearly like breathing hot liquid. We hardly left the cool of the apartment in those first two months, as we prayed for the heat to finally let up.

It did, somewhere around mid-October or so. Fall was brief, but beautiful. Winter was a bit longer than fall, with lots of bitter cold and a large dose of ice but only two light snows. Spring was as brief as fall. The long summer began in late April or early May, and by June we were well into the sticky mess of a Southern summer.

I can take hot. After all, California is mostly arid desert, and I had seen my share of heat, well into the 90s at the height of summer, climbing above 100 now and then. My family even sought out even greater heat each year when we would vacation in deep into the desert. In August. On purpose. But this wet sticky heat of summer in the South is a whole other entity.

Then there are the bugs. Where to begin with the bugs? Let's start with the flies. I have never seen so many in my life. And I have to say, these flies are DIFFERENT. I'm used to flies that buzz noisily at the windows in desperate searches for escape, or that try to eat your picnic food. But these Southern flies are nothing short of AGGRESSIVE. They actually dive-bomb us as we sit on the couch. For no apparent reason.

But at least I've SEEN flies before. Most of the other bugs around here are entirely new to me, and many of them are, quite simply, frightening. Because they are HUGE. Mosquitos the size of wasps, and wasps the size of, well, really big wasps. And something that looks like a giant moth but turns out to be a scary thing known as the cicada killer wasp, which nests in your yard and then breaks free to go kill cicadas in the trees. Now, the cicadas are so god-awful noisy that I don't mind the existence of a bug whose sole mission is to eat them. But I DO mind unnaturally large killer wasps nesting in the yard where my toddler runs around. And I DEFINITELY mind these wasps hanging out in the mosquito-netted gazebo we bought expressly to protect us from large bugs. Ahem.

Then there are the black widow spiders, which have taken a shine to nesting in the undersides of our patio chairs. Something made me turn my chair over before sitting down on it yesterday (perhaps it was the spider web so bright white and sticky that I could not rinse it from the chair leg?). It's good to listen to your instincts in the South, because there in the corner between the seat and the armrest was a gigantic black widow just hanging out.

There are countless other bugs, and then there's the infernal racket emitting from the bugs of the forest just outside our backyard fence, which I am quite sure is one of the soundtracks straight out of hell. Seriously, someone ought to record this shit for use in horror films. It is not to be believed.

Needless to say, we're planning on staying indoors for the next two months. Just as those in wintry climates spend much of January and February inside staying warm and dry, we'll be spending August and September inside staying cool (and dry!). Our neighbors, all of whom are Southerners by birth, think we're antisocial or crazy. They gather outside each evening, just a couple of hours after the hottest point of the day (an incomprehensible 3:00 here rather than the noon-ish peak I'm used to), and remain out until dark, giving the mosquitos plenty of fare for their nightly feeding frenzies. You'd think it was the best weather of the year, the way they're out soaking it up. But no, the best weather is about two weeks in late October and two weeks in late April, and that's it. Sigh.

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