It’s a Forest Falls fall day – crisp air, blue skies – and the gnats.
Oh yes the gnats – small flying insects – groups of them hovering in gnatty clouds around eyes, nostrils and ears.
Walking up the roadway that ends in a park I become a human windmill whirling my arms to blow away the invasive army. And when I carry up driftwood in my arms from the stream bed below our house – the gnats take full advantage of my lack of defense and cover my face in a mobile swarm. Enough! Finally I bring out my arsenal, a small net that drapes around my hat and over my face – and voila! – the gnats fly off to bother other innocents.
I wonder why gnats find humans so appealing and I learn they are looking for moisture – by flying up nasal passages, into ear holes and onto eyeballs? Sheesh – of course! They are being their gnatty selves.
Forest Falls is tucked away in the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles. It is a place where nature has not been covered over by steel and concrete. Large trees, pine and cedar grow into straight columns – a stream flows year round down to the valley several miles below.
The canyon burbles with this flowing water – crows talk to each other, hawks screech, and robins add to the melody. It is a setting that lends itself to meditative silence.
Occasional torrential rains swell the stream sending mud, rock and tree branches tumbling downward. Afterward, when the stream returns to its normal size, pieces of driftwood can be found lying on the sand and wedged between boulders. The harder wood makes for slow-burning fuel so I collect several of the suitable ones and add them to our firewood pile.
Today I heard a knock on my door and opened it to see Antoinette, a close-by neighbor standing in front of me wearing a hat draped with a stylish white netting. Apparently I’m not the only one gnats love to annoy!