Spring Has Sprung — Would You Like Flies With That?

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Here in Australia it’s officially spring, my favourite time of year.

The frost has gone. The days are getting longer and the nights warmer. I don’t have to light the fire every night — what a relief. Fires are wonderful on cold nights, but they’re also messy and time-consuming. And don’t get me started on the constant log-splitting …

Now I’m getting my heat from the sun. And I’m making the most of it before summer, when being outside is like living on the surface of the sun. A slight exaggeration? Maybe, but when it’s 115 degrees outside in January, it feels like that.

Spring is also the greenest time of the year here in the Outback. Many years we get all our rain in two or three big downpours, which causes flooding and damage. But this year we’ve had steady, regular rain that has soaked in and gone where it’s most needed. If a picture is worth a thousand words then these say it all for me.

Keep in mind, this is outback South Australia. The driest state in the driest country in the world. In a couple of months, the scenery will reflect that statement more. But now … not so much.

Of course, with the rain and the sunshine come the weeds. At this time of year, you can almost watch them grow. Right now they’re thriving, but soon they’ll dry out and die, providing great hiding places for the snakes and using my border collie’s coat as a seed-dispersing vehicle. Sigh … I’ll get my brush. At least the kelpie’s coat is like Teflon: nothing sticks for long. No wonder the farmers’ working dog of choice is the kelpie!

(My dogs have earned the nicknames Teflon and Velcro.)

And in the spring the flies return. With a vengeance. I’d always assumed they die off in the winter, so where do they come from in the spring? Even out here, close to the middle of nowhere, you only have to think about cooking something and the flies are at the screen door, trying to get in. They have better noses than a pack of bloodhounds.

There’s clearly something going on out there that no one ever sees. Secret fly hatcheries?

Australian flies must be some of the friendliest critters in the world. No shyness, no discrimination. They just love to get in your face, and everywhere else. In the summer, it’ll be too hot for them as well, but for now I’m seriously considering getting one of those silly hats with the corks hanging off the brim.

Don’t laugh. Half the townsfolk are walking around impersonating beekeepers with their hats and net veils. The other half keep waving their arms around and talking to themselves.

Even my dogs leap around snapping at things only they can see (but we can all hear the buzzing). The border collie won’t share his dinner with anyone. “It’s the flies,” I tell my surprised visitors. “Ah, yes,” they nod knowingly.

Still, even with the flies, and the weeds, and daily dog-brushing, it’s a beautiful time of year. A time to be outdoors and to get things done, like, say, weeding and separating the dog’s coat from the more prolific grass seeds. Or just sitting in gratitude, and remembering why I live here.

And just look at the views I have while I’m doing it.

Until next time, keep the faith …