Sound bite


Living in the same place for long enough, one can easily slip into an almost subconscious rhythm of recognition of weather patterns and routines of nature with the same certainty with which we accept that Wednesday follows Tuesday.

Though it's been almost a decade since the best neighbour in the world, affectionately known as 'Mrs. B' passed away, I remember her careful daily weather observations dutifully recorded on her calendar at the end of each day. And for the entire time she lived next door, I didn't bother phoning Environment Canada or listening to the radio weather reports in those pre-internet days.

Before hanging laundry or planning an outing, I'd ask Mrs. B if she thought it was going to rain and, with a casual glance to the sky and a gauge of wind direction, she'd predict with remarkable accuracy, often contradicting the meteorologists. She was my go-to person for every unidentified insect in the garden, educating me on potato beetles, click beetles, and all manner of grubs.

Thanks to her, I knew how to deal with a number of pests – garden and otherwise – indigenous to our region, and knew that whitecaps on Lac St. Louis (yes, it happens) in a certain direction was a harbinger of rain.

Things started to change a few years ago. The once predictable westerly winds began to fidget and shift and while the blame, no doubt, can be partly placed on climate change, the climatic mood swing is disconcerting.

And while I don't miss the whining stalking of the common culicidae that results in a welt borne of rude bloodsucking intrusion, the lack of mosquitoes in our region this year – for the first time – has me scratching my head, if little else.

The apple trees on my property typically serve as happy hour this time of year for swarms of wasps that show up to feast on the rotting fermenting booty that lies on the ground as we gingerly tiptoe our way through the minefield of potential stings.

And though we've evolved this into a competitive sport, the black and yellow players are, inexplicably, missing in action this season. For the first time in 20 years, there are virtually no wasps to speak of in our area.

Nature, it's often said, abhors a vacuum, and though I don't particularly miss the little stinging jerks, I think I've solved the mystery of what's thrown our seasonal pest cycle out of whack – a predator with eight legs and attitude.

Île Perrot has always been a haven for spiders and some freaky environmental shift this year has seen their size increase, both in number and proportion. And while it may or may not explain the diminution in pest population, I'm willing to bet it's the cause of unpleasant discoveries that have been showing up in – of all places – our clothing.

I recently admonished (okay, yelled at) the kids for not taking the laundry off the clothesline when I told them to, as the longer they hang in the sun, the more 'cooked' they smell. And a secondary, and worse, detriment was soon discovered as we began to wear the clothes that had been hanging on the line and discovered that spiders are very fond of hiding in the convenient folds of freshly scented fabric.

Injuries on delicate parts of the human body serve as an exceptional learning tool and the armpit injury endured by my eldest from a surprise encounter of a spider in a clothesline dried T-shirt should've warned me about the potential danger in other articles of clothing.

Now, not only am I walking and sitting a little more carefully these days, I have a new nighttime ritual of carefully shaking out my jammie bottoms before bedtime.

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