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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Just about the time that all the bugs have died off and you think that you’re in the clear, the flies emerge. They didn’t get the memo: winter is coming. With reckless abandonment flies get stuck in your hair, dive into your drink, and do a quickie on your knee. They don’t care that the nightly freeze will kill them; their life span is short anyway.
Flies are not particularly troublesome; they cause no real harm. They’re just plain annoying. The way they land on my foot over and over again, tickling it with tiny feet, drives me insane. The constant copulation on any surface, from my spoon, to my son’s head, seems awfully disrespectful.
If I’ve had enough flies for one day, I go on a killing rampage. Stalking the flies through the house, wielding a fly swatter like a sword, I kill, kill, kill. But when the red has faded from my eyes and I can not find anymore flies, I feel remorse, sweeping up the bodies. Once the dust has cleared and the fly swatter has been put away, futility sets in, since just as many flies appear as before.   
Early morning is the only time to get away from the flies, before the stove’s fire has broken the night’s chill, when the house is cold. Huddled around a steaming beverage, I can find peace. This time of year, birds no longer call to the sunrise and the hum of insects has faded. Silence can be found. But when such impeccable stillness ensues, my ears begin picking up distant rumbles. Only in winter can I hear semi-trucks on the highway.
After listening to the jake braking in the distant, I am reminded of the annoyances I have escaped from: sirens, car alarms, traffic jams, and trash trucks at 6 am. At Owls’ Knob I must endure some to avoid others. I recognize the compromises I’ve made. By the time I’ve finished pondering city life, the warmth of the fire has awakened the flies. Yet somehow, for a moment, they don’t seem all that bad.  

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