The Plague of Flies | Buzz Blog

The Plague of Flies



There seems to be no name for this weird season we're in. As we were told with whip-crack abruptness, Summer ended at Labor Day. Fun's over, wage slaves. Now, get back to work! And yet, Autumn doesn't officially begin until Sept. 22.


What shall we call this season? The lack of a suitable term constitutes a vexing omission on the part of the English language, similar to the way "brunch" is used to describe Bellinis and crêpes at lunchtime, yet no corresponding word exists for four martinis and one french fry at 3 p.m.

Is it "Fummer"? "Sautumn"? There are several possible portmanteaus, but none is sufficiently euphonious to really catch on. ("Sall" and "Auter" are probably the least offensive, but even so, they grate on one's nerves.)

"Indian Summer" is a wonderfully evocative term -- one that doesn't even constitute a P.C. infraction as far as I can tell -- but it applies to a spell of warm weather after the first frost, so it is not really applicable here. Even during the recent chilly periods, overnight temperatures in these parts have remained well above the 32° Fahrenheit mark.

So I don't know what to call it. It is the harvest season, but an unusually wet and late Spring delayed things this year. For some reason, we've had a bumper crop of jalapeño, Anaheim and bell peppers, but our tomato output has been less than desired. Also, our basil has been languishing all year, so there's no hope of fresh pesto. One blessing is that our late harvest has staved off the worst of the hellish squash glut, so the normal stealth tactics people use to trick me into eating horrible, bland, fleshy courgettes have been unnecessary: I have not yet been surprised by zucchini in omelets, brownies or spaghetti sauce. I can eat quesadillas, muffins and soup with impunity. Nobody has yet suggested I bake that blasphemous confection known as "zucchini bread," which is nothing less than a slap in the face of the noble banana.

The dearth of zucchini has been rather nice, actually. Less pleasantly, however, we have been beset by another little biblical plague -- houseflies.

Now, we get a fair number of these every year. One of our upper-floor windows is missing a screen, and it is in such an odd and precarious position that we haven't yet figured out how to fit one in without breaking our necks. Yet it is the only window in its south-facing room that hasn't been painted shut; during the hot Summer months, it must be left open to admit a breeze. Unfortunately, this also brings in flies.

Where do they all come from? It's an old house, so probably there's at least one corpse buried around here somewhere. But, for whatever reason, this year we've had an overabundance of muscanids.

They fly in through the window in the music room, travel throughout the house, and finally seem to gravitate to the bathroom. Newly remodeled, the window in that room opens and closes and everything. It even has a screen. So they bumble about in there, evidently trying to escape, but only succeeding in trapping themselves between the screen and the window.

By the time there were eight flies buzzing around in there, I realized the situation was serious. I had previously hung a strip of sticky flypaper in my home office, but in the ensuing weeks it had failed to trap any houseflies, although it had captured a spider and some kind of unidentifiable striped lacewing.

So I moved it to the bathroom window, and within 24 hours, there were at least a dozen flies stuck to it. Four days later, the thing is practically covered with houseflies.

That fly-strip is a hateful thing, and makes for a singularly unattractive window decoration. The sticky part is translucent and amber-colored -- as the sun shines through it, one can watch with grim amusement the struggle of the flies while they slowly starve to death.

Brandon's Big Gay Blog

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