Move Over, Mayfly

The usual suspects have descended on Upstate’s rivers again, a ritual as much of fly rod as of calendar.  These two- legged, often Woolx-bound creatures, seen standing like monuments in the middle of streams live by permit and bait, gypsies of the winding paths of rivers, forever seeking the perfect fishing spot.  Or parking place.  In truth, a fishing enthusiast can’t have one without the other.   Our summer dacha, close by the West Branch of the Delaware, is constant witness to the down-staters and out-of-staters cruising slowly up and down our road seeking a place to park and “put-in.”  The spring season is thus underway when two things collide:  The man (and occasionally woman) in waders and the small critter fish love to feed on, the mayfly.  But as most Upstaters know, this year marked something different.  There was no spring.  A shockingly long and cold winter found itself (delightfully) abandoned when summer jumped spring and landed with two feet at the end of April.  Nothing’s been the same since.

As heat soared into the 80s and, in some cases, the 90s, the natural world responded accordingly.  Leaves and flowers exploded in euphoric abondanzza, displaying brilliant colours and shiny yellow-green leaves.

Purple Lupins in a mid-May run. Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Purple Lupins in a mid-May run.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Daisies, lilacs, lupins, azalea, you name it, are all competing for attention while drowning humans in pollen.  With broom handy, and sometimes the garden hose, we’ve been dispatching pollen as best we can for weeks.  It’s everywhere, not just on the porch and car, but on my desk and in my tea mug.  Yikes.  At least no one in this house suffers from allergies.  Yet it isn’t just the release of pollen from happy plants that has caught our attention this year.  The extreme warmth kindled the inner workings of insects, big and small.  There’s a bumble bee the size of a B-52 bomber that hovers around the back porch of the dacha.  Maybe it’s a drone.   Looking at it in a more scholarly way,  some quick research tells us it is a carpenter bee, that pesky, but not-to-be-feared buzzer that drills perfectly round holes into unpainted wood to make nests.  The well-painted dacha always leaves them disappointed.  Then there are the butterflies, already in abundance.  Several scampering yellow swallowtails have been observed.  The real excitement, however, comes under cover of darkness.

Wild Daisies being wild. Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Wild Daisies being wild.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

In the rush to summer, lightning bugs have emerged to take part in the concentrated drama.  In our dacha field of many acres, they have emerged from the ground where they have been burrowed since last summer to signal their green luminous messages to one another.   A thousand lights have been on display, lights that shouldn’t be seen until July.   This is a theatre that really does trip the light fantastic.  The lazy mosquito and no-see-um have been caught off-guard this year, goofing off somewhere in some slow, dull, life cycle.  All to the good.  With feet stretched out over the back porch railing, we let the enchantment of summer wash over us – in May.   Does this mean there will be no lightening bugs in July?  Let’s remain optimistic and enjoy the present performance.  It’s free and it’s the best show in town.

A dacha lightning bug prepares for take-off. Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

A dacha lightning bug prepares for take-off.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Let the lowly mayfly provide supper for the trout.   With daisies and lupins all around us, with rhododendrons and columbine waving their faces so brightly, the back field summer is in full swing.  Tonight, there’s a very enthusiastic audience attending.  Play on.