Last Friday, as I looked out my window at the first day of autumn – at the gloomy sky, the drizzle pelting our cars, the maple leaves that already littered our lawn and stained our driveway – I just smiled and said, “Welcome, friend. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Even if that renegade NASA satellite had hit the yard at that moment, it wouldn’t have dulled my spirits. Fall was here. More important, summer was over.
Summer 2011 was the worst season on record in the past 14 billion years on any of the planets in our solar system. Hot, dry, insufferable. The triple-digit summer. It was so bad, it shouldn’t even have counted as an official season. I’m sure you will agree.
Summer was no fun this year. It was so unbearable that I missed most of it, choosing to stay inside at every opportunity. Those three months dragged by, too oppressive to be experienced firsthand.
I found myself actually thanking the drought for keeping our grass from growing, because it was no joy to walk behind the mower during summer 2011.
It was not just the heat. The Summer of Our Discontent brought out mosquitoes as I had never seen, or felt, before. Mosquito repellents acted as though they were on furlough. I was so desperate that I tried our daughter-in-law’s trick of stuffing a fabric softener sheet into a pocket to fend off the mosquitoes. I never found out whether that worked because the sheet’s perfume repelled me and I had to ditch it quickly.
Other insects were in profusion, too, including ticks on our normally tick-free dogs. Moreover, our little vegetable plot and our flowers were eaten by varmints, including a swift, green turtle and either a large rat or a small rabbit. Ugly lizards that normally bask in the sun ducked into the house for a siesta, sending my wife into a frenzy when one of them shed its tail while she was trying to sweep it outside again.
The houseflies were several times larger than the usual Musca domestica. I considered constructing a fly repellent we saw on the deck of a restaurant in Florida during the heat of summer.
The deck faced the bay, which was littered with thousands of oyster shells that had been tossed out. The tide was low, and the lovely scene smelled fishy. We marveled, though, that there were no flies bugging us.
As we waited for our food, we noticed zippered plastic food bags hanging from the rafters, each containing water and one shiny penny. The waitress told us they kept the flies away, but she didn’t know how they worked.
I had never heard of that before, but have since noticed that an Internet search will bring up thousands of entries about such bags. Some sources say they work, maybe because of the reflection and shine, while others say they are an urban legend.
I guess I’ll have to wait until next summer to find out for sure. I’m too giddy to think about it right now. Autumn is here!