For me Independence Day has always marked the advent of summer, even though the calendar begs to differ. As a kid I remember thinking that the really good stuff didn’t happen until then. Not until flags were unfurled to line streets and storefronts and to flap and wave unfettered on front porches and stoops. Till parades and patriotism marched down Main Street, with bands and batons galore. Till the towering man on stilts made his way through the crowd along with white-faced clowns toting bouquets of balloons, billowing lazily in the breeze high above their heads. Till the Carnies came to town, towing tired caravans of carnival wares behind them and leaving in their collective wake barren patches of earth in the green fields of Smythe Park. Till the icy chill finally left the depths of our town pool. Till the unrelenting oppressiveness that is July and August settled in for the duration. That’s when summer officially began for me.
I suppose my children would frame the birth of this beloved season similarly, although they’d tack on a few additional milestones: like firefly sightings, serenading crickets and evenings running barefooted through the cool grass. Like sprinklers and sparklers, Frisbees and freedom and, of course drippity ice cream cones under the hot, hot sun. Like sandals and sundresses, campouts and cookouts, bathing suits and bug spray. Or like sitting in front of a box fan for hours—not so much to cool off, but to revel in the rattles and croakiness one could instantly produce by singing into it. “That’s so cool, Mom! Must be summer’s finally here!”
It’s certainly here alright. I know because the doors open and close roughly 600 times a day in this household and the flies are among us. The ones that have made my kitchen table a landing strip, my countertops a veritable garden party and my windows a rumored path to freedom—or perhaps to an untimely death. “Mommy, let me make him all squishy. I can do it. I watched you before.”
Gak! The thought of squishing and squashing and smearing the innards of said vileness all over my perfectly fingerprinted windows and cabinetry makes me ill. Yes ill. Yet allowing the loathsome creatures to willfully buzz everywhere, in that completely frenzied, pinball-like state we all know and love, bumping and banging into every blasted thing in the house and spreading God-knows-what kind of germage far and wide is worse. Far worse. It’s beyond repulsive and fast approaching hurl-worthy from my perspective.
Oddly enough, it’s the buzzing that bothers me most as the winged beasts (i.e. flying Raisinettes) ricochet here and there in a panic, pausing only to rest and to resonate in the presumed safety of corners to the annoyance of all. I especially abhor the characteristic hum of those big, hairy boxcar types—the Airbus of house flies. The sort that spits and sputters like an overburdened engine gasping for life, careening toward the earth at an alarming rate, preparing to crash and burn—or to plaster my windows yet again. But it’s the maddening drone in the air that I dread most.
Apparently, my children do not share my hatred of this summertime pest. In fact, a few years ago they were into naming the silly things. Frank. Fuzzy-head. Buzz. Whatever seemed fitting at the time. They even had the audacity to befriend them and to talk to them on occasion, to coax them into leaving our humble abode—preferably unscathed and well-fed.
Now, however, they find the mangy things to be a great source of amusement. They still name them, although they’re just as likely to kill, maim or imprison them indefinitely as they are to converse with them or to set them free. “Look, Mommy! I whacked Frank right out of the air with the swatter and then pounded him into the carpet (read: beat him into submission) ALL BY MYSELF! Let’s call Daddy at work! Just like I did when I lost my tooth!”
And so we did. I could think of nothing more newsworthy on earth to report—except for maybe the fact that she and her cohort had given some hapless caterpillars and worms a bath earlier in the day.
No doubt about it. Summer’s here!
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel