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Archive for August 1st, 2011

This year the horseflies have been phenomenal. Not just the quantity, but the quality, of the beast has increased. As I’ve swept up the milking parlor in the evenings, I’ve noticed blood stains where their feasting has dripped off the cow and onto the concrete – like the spattered chalk outline at a homicide scene.

If you manage to smack one clamped onto a cow’s back, it spurts blood, covering the cow, your hand, your clothes, with the horsefly’s dinner. Disgusting.

They have also been really black this year. Black and huge and humming – the size and sound of a hummingbird. I get jumpy while I milk and I hear one buzz by followed by the scary silence when it lands on my back for a bite.

This year the hummingbirds have been phenomenal. They’re as thick as rain clouds around the two hummingbird feeders I fill once or twice daily. They greet me at the door, hovering at eye level while I replace the filled feeders on the back porch.

Many years ago I took a camping vacation with my dog, Murphy. I had never camped before, so I bought a one-woman/one-dog sized tent and practiced setting it up and taking it down on my parents’ farm. I made sure my over-sized Golden Retriever was comfortable with the idea of sleeping in a tent – he was comfortable sleeping anywhere, I don’t know why I worried – and then we packed up and headed out.

We went west, in May.

I learned a few things on that trip – such as it snows in May in Cimarron Canyon, New Mexico. I’m afraid of bears. I need extreme solitude.

We camped in New Mexico, stayed with friends in Arizona, and camped again on BLM ground in Moab, Utah.

The Moab campground was wind-swept and barren and beautiful. I set up my tent by a small bush and proceeded to explore my surroundings. That night Murphy and I slept well – the way you do when your lungs are filled with fresh night air. The next morning I awoke to a loud buzzing around my tent. It was intense and frightening and I worried I had staked my tent over a hornet’s nest. I didn’t look forward to finding out that I had.

Leaving Murphy safely inside, I peeked out only to find we were surrounded by hummingbirds.

Hundreds of them.

It was magical.

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