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Column: This used to be such a peaceful place

It’s cold out. It’s October, but I can’t turn the furnace on for heat. Not yet.

Outside, it’s raining, windy, icky. Where was all this wet stuff back in July when we needed it? Doesn’t it almost seem like we’re being tortured? Hot, hot, hot, then cold, cold, cold.

It’s really chilly here in the house, but like I said, I cannot turn the furnace on quite yet. Why, you wonder? It’s because there’s a problem that has to be solved first. And what might that problem be?

It’s a common house fly. The last one. The last fly of summer. And he’s smart, and quick, and cagey. There. He was just on the kitchen table, but as soon as I raised the fly swatter off my lap and he saw it, he’s gone. Poof. Disappeared.

This is one cautious little flying set of eyeballs, which is the reason flies are so hard to swat in the first place: They’ve got a million eyeballs. OK, not a million, just 4,000.

Usually that’s each eye, but this guy must have way more. He’s impossible to hit.

He likes it when I nap. He really likes my nose. He lands on it, dares me to injure myself waving my hands wildly around my face. I hate this fly. At my age, I’ve only got so many naps left in which to experience The Perfect Nap. This fly is proving to be as elusive as The Perfect Nap.

When we moved up here to northern Minnesota 40 winters ago, things were different. I don’t remember much for wood ticks, which seem to have gotten way worse. Ladybugs back then were something special, cute, beneficial. Now there are some unpronounceable killer sprays to douse your house with on the outside to keep ahead of Asian beetles, which had the gall to invade us masquerading as ladybugs.

This used to be the gopher state, and the only thing a farmer had to do was hang on extra tight to the tractor steering wheel as he bounced across the field on mounds of their piled up excavations. And gophers were worth something, which kept kids busy all summer.

Don’t even try to tell me that computer games and text messaging are half as fun as digging up a gopher hole and trying to outsmart him with a rusty old trap, while visions of the dime you were going to get for him and spend next Saturday night when you went to town danced in your head.

It’s the bug state now.

In the western movie Silverado, just before the big gunfight at the end, the crooked sheriff looks around the town, which is burning down around him, and says: “This used to be such a peaceful little town.”

This used to be such a peaceful state. OK, I’ve forgotten mosquitoes, which always have been a problem, but at least back then, they didn’t carry a disease. They were just nice, ordinary, bloodthirsty carnivores. Now they’re mean. Get bitten, go to the doctor.

So my plan for this fly is to get the house so cold that he can’t fly. Not turn the furnace on until the drip from the bathroom faucet becomes an icycle. That’s my plan. Eventually, winter comes, and problems like this solve themselves.

Summers around this neck of the woods are kind of like that gunfight, only our gunfight comes in the spring, with the bugs when they come back. We look around, see the invading hordes of disease-bearing insects of summer coming, and our white snow banks of winter leaving, and we say:

This used to be such a peaceful little place.

The Prairie Spy by Alan "Lindy" Linda