Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunset No. 1

The photograph above offers further proof that life in a cabin a few feet from the edge of Lake Superior in upper Michigan is far, far better than existence in a boring suburban house in northern Illinois. You just do not get sunsets like this in Chicago.

Of course, Chicago doesn't suffer stable fly hatches like the one we had last Saturday, when the wind blew in from the south and the temperature soared into the upper 80s. Stable flies are the vampires of the North Woods, nasty nanovelociraptors that feast on every square inch of mammalian flesh exposed to their fangs.

This was unusual. Ordinarily stable flies don't swarm until July 4 or so, when the smaller but equally vicious blackflies settle down (more or less), but the extraordinarily balmy two weeks in March that enveloped the entire Midwest has got nature happening early.

Some friends of ours arrived Saturday morning at their cottage down the beach, took one look and rushed for their front door without bothering to unload their luggage. They stayed in all day, and after a blue norther brought in heavy rains and 40-degree temperatures Sunday, said bah humbug and returned to southern Wisconsin.

We watched from our car early Saturday as a young woman in a skimpy tank top and shorty shorts emerged from her tent at a nearby campground and sprinted for the bathhouse screaming, arms windmilling and flailing, as a cloud of stable flies enveloped her.

I would not have blamed her had she shot the boyfriend who took her camping.

In fact, for a brief moment I thought that maybe stable flies might provide an engine for an interesting homicide. In the next moment I realized that first-degree murder—the only sensible charge to build a mystery novel around—isn't reasonable when biting insects are the provocation.

No prosecutor in this neck of the woods would entertain a charge more serious than involuntary manslaughter. Not after experiencing a weekend like that.

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