I was excited a few months ago when the first glacier lilies popped up. Just as, similarly, I get excited when I can begin swimming comfortably again in the rivers; or see the first hint of gold or red on a cold leaf; or feel the first cool kiss of a snowflake (and no two kisses are alike); or the first ice forms; or the first ice thaws, or the first blackbirds sing.
It’s been a wonderful spring. But it’s over.
Today I got used as a source of protein by perhaps hundreds of tiny little mosquitoes, the kind whose bite leaves a bump and itches for a while. I understand why, and the importance of it all to everything else in the wilds I love. It's worth a small donation of blood. I have plenty. It’s the least I can do. A contribution, or annual fees. I like to give back. But I don’t have to like liking it.
I confess: Sometimes I feel revengefully satisfied knowing that honey bees lose parts of their abdomens and digestive tracts, plus muscles and nerves, and then drop dead after leaving their stingers in me. But then I feel guilty for feeling that way, because I think from their point of view all of their stings were justified. (Although, to be honest, I truly have no idea what or how bees think, or even if they do think.) Either way, it’s part of it, I'm part of it; it's all part of the wilds I love.
Another quick thought: Perhaps some mosquito with my blood gets somehow preserved in amber and future scientists at an isolated island theme park extract my DNA and clone me. Lots of me!
Though I still wish I had my bug dope today.
I forget my bug dope on the first discovery of return of the mosquitoes every year. It’s an annual ritual; like being too eager to reach the high country again and end up post-holing through snow. Again. Every year. Or the first time each year I attempt to get out on the ice too soon. Again. Every year. So I forgot my bug dope. Again. Like every year.
I did swat and kill a ton. Guilt free. I do it for their own good. It helps them, in an evolutionarily-sort-of way. The quickest and luckiest avoid my hand and then pass on their quickest-and-luckiest traits to their several hundred egg-larva-pupa-adult offspring, and then the quickest and luckiest of them pass the quick-and-lucky genes on to their several hundred offspring and so on – effectively increasing the numbers of the quick and lucky in the ever-growing swarms.
I love watching the trout eat them, even though they were sucking my blood while I watched.
So now I miss winter. A lot.
POSTSCRIPT: After writing the above, I fell asleep scratching all the still-itchy bumps. I awoke from a dream that I was snowshoeing in the wilds and fell into and got stuck in a deep snow pit below a handsome subalpine fir (there’re far worse things to be stuck in a cold pit with.) They say if you dream you never got out of a snow pit then you really never did get out of the snow pit and so you never wake up.
Fortunately, I woke up before I didn’t get out.
I’m happy again.