Yr’s Truly remembers a middle-of-the night drive on a long bridge across a Louisiana lake in 1956. We were escaping from a not-quite-paid up room bill owed to the keeper of a sleazy motel on Airline Highway in New Orleans, fretting about how we’d come up with enough cash to buy us enough gas (at 20 cents a gallon) to get us all the way down through Florida to our campus digs in Coral Gables. We’d overstayed our intentions and spent too much on Singapore Slings at Pat O’Brien’s on Bourbon St. (and other French Quarter delights.)
College kids. Long before credit cards. Long before.
Most details of that adventure are lost. Best left that way.
Most, except for the bugs. Thick enough create a winged fog over Pontchartrain. Outside, you couldn’t breathe. Inside, you couldn’t see outside. The headlights were dimmed, coated in dead bugs. The windshield wipers bounced over globs of splatted and smeared bug guts. Climb out every mile or two, scrape off the remains of a million little corpses, climb back in, creep forward another mile or two, scrape again. It can be a long way across the big lake in a cloud of bugs.
Or it was back then.
Maybe it still is, but Yr’s Truly doubts it. There are tales from long-haul truckers, those old guys who in springs and summers of yore would stop every hour, shinny up the side of their Peterbilt cab and clean – scrape, is more precise – their windshields. These days it might be every week, maybe two. The bugs are bugging out.
Some places, they’re referring to the “Insect Apocalypse.” Has to do with a changing climate, some say. Whatever, “something’s going wrong,” says one researcher. Horribly wrong, says another: “An ecological disaster.” Climate change deniers notwithstanding, there are those who just go out and count the bugs and come to the conclusion that we’re faced with “catastrophic consequences for the survival of mankind”. Go ahead — Google something like “insect disappearance.” You’ll find plenty of scary reading matter.
No doubt you’ve heard about the bees. More precisely, the lack of them. Of course that means the chances of getting stung are diminished. I guess I’d rather take my chances with the stingers.
There are silver linings for fly fishermen, however. (I’m not one of them – got better things to do than crawling through a thicket wearing water-filled rubber boots trying to untangle an invisible line that leads, somewhere in there, to a lure that’s hooked on a pussy willow. I’d leave it there, but it costs more than two fat trout at Trader Joe’s.)
The fisher-dudes have to be happy. For one thing, there probably is a diminished number of mosquitoes out there in the great American wild, which means a diminished cost for bottles of Bug-B-Gone and witch hazel . That leaves more money for beer. For another: The fish, growing tired of Lean Cuisine diet of fewer bugs, are bound to be much more willing to nibble on something made of soppy chicken feathers and a hook.
Fill up those creels, you fly-fisher-folk, while the fillin’s good.
That is, until the fish go the way of the bugs. That’s another story.
& Wondering how we’re gonna recognize a happy motorcycle rider when he hasn’t got bugs on his teeth, I’m outta here.