Black Flies and Green Trees

Can we talk some about the ways in which being stuck inside, for the most part, messes with our heads? I think part of the COVID19 crisis’s worst side effects (beyond the obvious–death) is that we, of the living, have so drastically changed our lives and no longer are social creatures, unless Zoom or social media is your thing (it’s not my personal thing). For me, resigning from one job and expecting to work again in our new place of residence has left me feeling useless overall because it’s so hard to find something right now. I look every week. I have added editorial services to this site. I just want to be interacting with people and society, despite my fondness for being away from, well, society, insofar as big crowds and cities. My first few weeks in the Halifax area were spent entirely alone. I had calls from family and talked to my husband every day (he is here now), but I saw no one and quickly realized that even furnishing the house for guests was a low priority. I didn’t even have my cats! Since my husband has finally arrived, he has been remotely working every day in his office. He talks all day to people and even has a happy hour once every week or so with his team. He also has his best friend back in Vancouver who games with him. The plus is that he has a job. The minus is that I cannot find one. I also game, but it is not that social since the people I play with are ones I’m just acquainted with. It seems my self-confidence is waning, big time. I haven’t really gone through this kind of feeling before except in temporary spurts, but this time it’s more than usual. I get up every day. I am still being creative with plants and cooking recipes, for instance, and in my writing. My work at continues as strongly as before. I will have my first meeting with an ecology network soon here in Halifax. I love this stuff. I just don’t think “not working” is for me. Going a little stir crazy here.

I am reading some books, which I should recommend. Books help my sanity. One I finished recently is Andrew Krivak’s The Bear. You can read my talk with him here. If you need perspective on being around hardly any other humans (okay, like one other) and surviving in a world in which nature doesn’t happen behind four walls, read this one: I dare you. It’s really eye-opening. Another is Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s Bankgok Wakes to Rain. This is a beautifully written elegy to our collective memory. It’s like James Michener’s The Drifters (a novel I read and enjoyed as a teenager) but much more significant, bound by wild prose and history–including the present and climate change–not holding together the characters and their experiences together by threads but, seemingly, much more fluidly. Can I say that it’s haunting me drop by drop? Stories, as always, keep me afloat. And, even as I’m writing this, somewhat ruing my lack of having a “real job,” maybe part of our adaption to all the changes in the world means that we must be more self-sufficient and turn to new means to make our lives worthwhile and happy.

Trees in our front yard

Together, my husband and I are doing a lot of yard work together. We ordered 28 trees, which should be here any day. That’s what we’re doing with the back 1/3rd acre. We’ve already driven stakes at the spots the trees will be planted:

  • Black walnut x 3
  • Sugar maple x 3
  • Butternut x 2
  • Bur oak x 4
  • Swamp white oak x 4
  • Russian white oak x 4
  • Hackberry x 3
  • Plum trees x 3 (two are random; one is a pollinator)
  • Maskinoge cherry x 2

6 yards of dirt arrived yesterday. I had a good time in the wind, covering it with a tarp. By the way, I will talk about some yard stuff in this blog, but follow my Nova Scotia Wildlife Series over at to get more info. Today I went out to shovel up some old ash from the burn container. I managed to push this heavy thing over last week and dump it on the ground. It was full of water and old burned papers. It’s mostly dry now, so I needed to get it up off the ground. We heard that ash is good around trees, but this stuff also had little plastic bits in it and some old cans.

Today I noticed that the black flies are finally out. They aren’t too big yet, but they are all over. It’s also nearly a whopping 20 degrees. Given that it snowed a few nights ago, this is welcome weather. The black flies come in late May and linger through June and may come back in the fall if there’s a bumper warm season. I was quite warm out there as I was covered up in long sleeves and long pants.

Of course our black flies are not this bad!

But black flies have ecological importance, especially in regards to nutrient cycling via water. And while they seem pesky, the greening of the 1.5 acres around our yard is a wonder to watch. So, as with how life goes, I know that my own conundrums are short-lived. Whether or not our social lives will change back to what we considered “normal” is not going to affect my overall love of life, even if it changes my mood here and there. The mood has also been upped by listening to Jimi Hendrix lately.

The featured image is of black flies attacking a canoe expedition in the Canadian Arctic in the summer of 2015–by Nicolas Perrault under the commons license.

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