With the dragonflies there, my protectors, I imagined taking a deep breath - not really doing it of course in case I inhaled a bug, or ten - and tried to be Zen about the haze of biting insects. “Really,” I thought. “At some point you must become oblivious to the constant flick of blackfly bouncing off your face. I can do this. Just look at Murds, he is completely un-deterred by his own cloud of bugs.” And so I picked up the Frisbee again and hurled it out over the short-cropped grass that somehow housed this swarm of blackfly and focused my attention on the dog.
And for a moment I did it, I ignored the patter of bugs against my skin, the circling deerfly with their deep-pitched drone bouncing off my hood, I watched Murdoch run and catch the Frisbee mid-flight, I noticed the lupins starting to grow at the edge of the ditch, I appreciated the different shades of green on the distant mountain even as the grey clouds thickened overhead, I listened to the quiet beyond the buzz, thought how beautiful it all is, and then there was that unmistakable plink of a bug flying in to my eye.
I am no stranger to that sensation, kind of like a tiny smooth pebble has landed on the edge of your eyelid, flicked there somehow from the middle of a cool river. Bugs are inexplicably drawn to my eyes, this happens all the time. When I ride my bike, bug in the eye; when I walk the dog, bug in the eye; when I am standing still, bug in the eye.
There was a moment that evening at the end of the road as my brain caught up to the unfolding drama that had caused my eyelid to leap into action, clamping shut the instant that bug made a move to careen into my eye, when I thought perhaps the situation could be salvaged. The bug was trapped, still alive, I could feel it at the base of my eyelashes and I imagined it entangled there, caught as though in a Venus flytrap. “Perhaps I could just sweep it away,” I thought. But in an involuntary panic of having a live bug trapped on the brink, my eyelid fluttered madly and the bug was in.
It is amazing how big a tiny blackfly can feel when it is in your eye. I let out a frustrated yell and crouched down on the gravel road, head bowed as if this would help, and blinked furiously, running my finger along the edge of my eyelid.
Murdoch’s feet appeared then in my line of vision, followed by the Frisbee dropped on the ground in front of me. I looked up to meet his gaze, “I got a bug in my eye Murd,” I said, still trying to peel my eyelid away from the eyeball in hopes the insect might just fall out.
Murdoch stared back, “So?” he seemed to say, “What’s the problem?”
Right. What’s the problem? How does this prevent me from throwing a Frisbee? It doesn’t.
We played for a little longer as I continued to rub at my eye, but my state of Zen was gone, if it had ever really been there at all. The buzzing filled my ears, the dragonflies were nowhere to be seen, the constant flick of bugs against my face was torturous, each making my skin maddeningly itchy; I felt like I was breathing them in. Even the sight of the chaotic cloud around Murdoch was too much.
“Okay,” I said. “We’re done.” And I quick-marched home, dragging an incredulous Murdoch with me and pulling my hood tighter around my head.
Bugs, 1. Me, 0.