“An optimist is a fellow who believes a housefly is looking for a way to get out.” —George Jean Nathan, American drama critic and magazine editor
I call myself optimistic, but most of the flies I’ve seen around my house this summer appear content staying inside. A friend swears, however, that he arrived home one day last week to hear his wife greet him with, “Leave the door open dear, these flies haven’t been out all day.”
Whether it’s flies, mosquitoes, gnats or other forms of pesky guests, as Mom used to say, “If it’s not one thing, it’s six of something else.” She was saying that long before Gilda Radner’s “Roseanne Roseannadanna” popularized a variation of it on Saturday Night Live.
The saying in any form applies to the bugaboo flies and other pests are perpetrating this summer. According to the entomologists, (can we just call them lord of the flies) the rain and unseasonably low temps we’ve been enjoying are creating the insect infestation that we are not enjoying. Who hasn’t enjoyed the unusually nice weather, but with an estimated 1,000,000 species of house flies, many of which I’m pretty sure have been hanging around my house, who wants them?
If you don’t like flies, however, the cooler, wetter, weather has created critter problems outside the flying variety. The Texas Hill Country has seen a marked increase of Scorpions reportedly for the same reasons we’re “enjoying” more flies in East Texas.
As I was busy swatting flies here last week, my son Lee, checked in on Facebook to share his dealings with the rash of predatory arachnids down his way. “Just a random scorpion,” he posted with a picture of one roaming around in a ceiling light fixture at his house. “The joys of living in the Texas Hill Country. That’s the light fixture in our bathroom…it was running around in circles trying to get out,” he wrote. “I’m more concerned about how it got in there.”
Recalling some 25 years ago when my kids and I lived just a stone’s throw from where Lee lives today, I responded, “I’m sure you remember them when we lived near Pipe Creek and you and Robin were in school. You used to go around the yard turning over rocks looking for them. Sometimes we would be sitting on the couch watching TV at night and see one run across the floor. They would get in the light fixtures in the kitchen there too. And, then there was the night I was standing barefoot in the kitchen, felt something on my foot and kicked in time to see one go flying across the floor. Yep, just part of living in the Texas Hill Country.”
While my kids have in recent years felt confident in confessing to numerous things about which I was uninformed back then, I must admit Lee’s next story was one I had not heard.
“Oh yeah,” he wrote. “I remember them and those stories. I used to go looking for them when I was younger. I remember catching about four or five and having them in a butter bowl in my room playing with them. I sat them on the window sill and went to bed only to wake up and the bowl was upside down on the floor. I picked it up and there was nothing under it…I never did find out where they all went.”
Mystery solved—it was all clear to me now. “One or two went to the kitchen light fixture,” I told Lee. “All but one more went to the living room floor and the last one crawled across my foot.”
I’m glad Lee waited until now to tell me about his pets. Otherwise, I’m optimistic that if the scorpions were not looking for a way to get out, I would have been.
Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune, the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.
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