For all my talk of mooses on my journey to the north shore of Lake Superior they are hardly the signature animal of my trip. Yes, one is adorning the mug from which I am currently drinking coffee, and it's quite possible that within a mere 50 miles of me, at this very moment, there is a moose ambling along in some soft, marshy ground. But that is hardly the same as having to say to my wife "I'm not sure if we can get down to the lake shore just now. The trail is all clogged up with moose."
No, for sheer presence and demanded consideration on these trips, it is the lowly fly that repeatedly seizes the crown of the animals. It is a certain kind of a crown, and ever so tiny, but whatever that crown is, it definitely belongs to the fly. When we first walked into our lake house here a neat dozen flies swirled and basked in the luxury of our kitchen. When we went boating on Lake Superior we were the tasty snack that great extended families of flies had been excitedly waiting for all summer, and as often as not in the morning it is a single fly that, dancing on us, buzzing us, and crawling on us, insists that we greet the day. "C'mon," The fly seems to say "It's morning! Life is short! Rise and shine! Try and kill me!"
"All right all right." I say sleepily as I make a clumsy, annoyed swat that merely whacks myself in the head.
And yet for all this the flies are not too bad this time of year here. I sit now writing before the windows completely undisturbed. I doubt there is a single fly active in our entire house. I could likely go out onto the blissful balcony and be bothered not at all. There is something here called cluster fly season that sounds like a piece from The Amityville Horror, flies swarming on the windows and gathered together in unrelenting masses. But that season is a month or more away. There is also black fly season which involves razor mouthed biters. That one ended some time in June though.
Last year I wrote the story (here) of my 16 hour pitched battle at this house with a single fly. I recounted how it tormented me, and of my futile attempts to destroy it. The odyssey culminated in my surprisingly catching the fly in my bare fist, on my 795th try, taking it outside, releasing it, and sharing a peaceful moment of transcendent Zen bliss with that fly out on our balcony above the lake.
This year I brought a fly swatter.