Posted in Stories

Thankful for gnats.

The gnats were suddenly back yesterday, and it made me a bit sad and glad which I’m sure a lot of folks will think the latter is a bit daft.  So allow me to explain.

A neighbor of ours, Louise, had explained to me last year about how here they were black flies and they tend to show up after Mother’s Day and are typically gone by Father’s Day. 

Prior to that, I always thought black flies were as big as greenheads because of the way folks describe them.  I guess it’s like the jokes about bird sized mosquitoes in Jersey.  She said they drove her crazy every year because they bit her so much, and she was surprised I was more annoyed with breathing them in than being bit.

The memory made me sad because she passed away late last year after falling ill for a while.  If she was still alive, she’d be ringing my bell to help her with the heavy lid so she can clean out her pool filter because it’s that time of year again, or to let me know she’d bought too many bananas and did I want some, and then I’d make banana bread for both our families.  She would be waving at me when we go outside to bring our bins back from the curb, or oh dear-ing when her more outgoing kitty was crossing the street because some cars fly up the hill and those at the top are the blind spot.  She would have asked me if I wanted all her leaves again for our compost last fall, which she was so delighted I was not only willing but thrilled to take off her hands in my little green wagon so she didn’t even have to drag them up the driveway to the curb for the town yard waste pick up.  She would be looking with me at the plants around her pool’s fence, and asking how to know which ones were oriental bittersweet before they went to seed.  She would be telling me about her latest swim competition or listening to me tell her about what we’re going to grow in our garden this year as we sit at her kitchen table eating donuts.

She was the sort that was mindful and kind and generous in spirit and action.  She was always keeping herself busy, a little slip of a lady managing to tackle things I hope I’m still able to do when I’m that age.  She wasn’t just a neighborly acquaintance, she was the only friend I had in our immediate neighborhood since moving here.  I am glad to have had the time I did with her.  I’m sure wherever she is now, her face is a bright wide smile, tickled pink that she is free of those pesky gnats this time of year.

I have a feeling I’ll always be reminded of her around this time of year thanks to–of all things–the gnats.

Care to share thoughts on this?