I’m sitting here looking out the window basking in the splendor of the a perfect day. Spring has sprung in Savannah and it’s a beautiful time of year. The temperature is in the 80’s, the days are longer, and the aroma of blooming flowers permeates the air. The azaleas are in blossom and the roadsides, fences, and lawns of Savannah are saturated in pinks, reds, and whites. It’s truly a stunning sight to behold.
The price of living on the beautiful Atlantic Coast is the insects. The absolute worst specimen being the sand gnat of the family Ceratopogonidae. They bite, they swarm, they love landing in your hair. They present themselves in the spring and stay until the weather turns cold, which sometimes doesn’t happen until late November or early December. They make life miserable.
Not even the bouquet of magnolias and gardenias can compete with the stench of insect repellent one is required to apply before setting foot out of doors. Not that it will do any good. One must pray for continuous gusting winds to blow the little suckers away for the tiniest bit of respite. Another somewhat effective repellent is incense. Baseball games smell like Catholic or Eastern Orthodox worship services. I guess in a way, it’s a similar notion. The prayers of the Saints, rising up to God, to please, please,please smite the unholy sand gnats. Every summer my fellow church members claim that one of the questions they are going to ask God is, “What was the purpose of sand gnats?” I suspect they’re the prelude to the Fifth Trumpet that releases the demonic locusts from the bottomless pit–just to give us a tiny taste of what’s coming.
Unfortunately, sand gnats aren’t the only problem. There are marshes (a more polite and genteel way of saying “swamps”) everywhere in and around Savannah. Aside from the pungent aroma of marsh gases (a more polite and genteel way of saying “rotten boiled egg stench”), these marshes breed mosquitos. Millions of mosquitos. The city tries to combat the number of mosquitos by spraying frequently, but they’re still a nuisance. The worst part of the spraying is that it also kills lightning bugs. I remember fondly the summer nights of capturing lightning bugs in glass jars in my childhood and it saddens me that my children will not have similar memories when they are grown.
Completing the unholy trinity is the fire ant. These little buggers build giant sand mounds in lawns and dare anyone to walk through it. The unsuspecting visitor will immediately be covered in large red biting ants that have a special knack for infiltrating shoes and socks. The poor victim wildly removes said footwear, only to discover he’s too late. The feet are already covered in bites that will burn and itch for days and leave large unsightly scabs that will last for weeks.
While the bugs and nearly unbearable heat and humidity are awful, they pale in comparison to the charm and beauty of Savannah. It’s a lovely city with a rich heritage. The people are models in southern hospitality, slow and long in their speech, and quick to offer tall glasses of sweet iced tea. The lazy rivers, tranquil coastlines, and the live oaks and towering pines draped in spanish moss evoke the same sombre and romantic notions in Savannah’s residents that inspired writers like Johnny Mercer and Flannery O’Connor. It’s a bewitching and glorious city and one that I’m honored to call home.
“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” ~Flannery O’Connor
Linking up to The Lightning and The Lightning Bug today.