How they test our tolerance!—those tiny sharp-snouted marauders. All summer long they hover in their shrill delight to keep us from our favorite walks, our woodland haunts. And, in the thick of their worst hatch, from even the lawnchair ease of our backyards. Untended now, the birdbath festers, stinks. The garden's weeds grow high. Our skins—all red-blotched if we dare emerge—begin to lose their soft brown glow, the warm-bread smell of spring.
One smiles, then, a little gleefully, when the spray-truck's whirr and foul perfume (the Durz-Ban mixed with motor fuel) bursts thickly through the swelter of a Midwest small-town night. Yes, even local "naturalists" will laugh a little gleefully those sweaty nights when, tossing, one hallucinates a constant tiny whine and ruthless prick that often, when the light's flicked, isn't there.
And yet there have been gentler spirits like the lonely pauper Issa, restless nature poet and proverbial "saintly fool," who, lying on his single robe spread over pine needles beside a woodland path in 18th-century Japan, could scrawl, "Beware, mosquito, I'm rolling over." And later trudging once again along the "beggars' route" in morning light, rice-bowl swinging by his side:
Clouds of mosquitoes—
it would be bare