god of the flies

Oct 17th: The idea first comes to me as I walk back from school a little before two in the afternoon on this blissful fall day. Why not, a voice whispers, run out by the pond, and why not take the heat of that run into the cooling Walden waters. By the time I reach the Fairhaven trails a little after four, the whisper has grown bold: “Listen,” it says, “how many more days like this will you get?”

I defer the existential question for the seasonal one. “Not many,” I answer. “If any.”

The day: clear, dry blue, with temps in the low 70s and the slightest beeze; I am returned to the season of ease.


So, after 30-some minutes of hoofing through the light-strewn woods, I circle down to the pond and my favorite little beach on the southwest side across from Thoreau’s Cove. There in a slat of sunlight, I strip off shoes and shirt and wade tenderly over the pebbles beneath the transparent water. The water knows its season, even if the air has been gulled; it’s chilly, somewhere in the 50s. It’s dunk-and-gasp water. But after that, if I stay still and let the envelope around me warm, it becomes again bask-and-look water. And so I do.

First at Henry’s far shore, still bathed in sun, then at the surface around me. Oak and beech leaves and pine needles float by me from west to east; those leaves with curled tips catch the light breeze and sail rapidly, while the rest go languidly by. Here, a foot in front of me is a tiny emerald fly whose right wing has broken the surface tension, and so he is mired, his free wing beating. He floats over my hand, and it rises whitely from the depths, lifting precisely, breaking the surface, and it catches him perfectly, carrying him free, even as the water sluices away. The fly rights himself and begins to walk his new land, clambering over the small hairs, walking up finger. I am, I think, the god of emerald flies. A little divinity to be sure, but here, immersed in this pond, with this fly walking now toward the uplands of my wrist, I am god (note the small “g”).

I walk from the water, and, as I coax the little green fly toward a still-green leaf, he lifts away, vanishes.

All gods get left, I think, as I leave the pond.

On the way back through the yellow-leaf woods by Fairhaven Bay, I flush two pileated woodpeckers, who laugh first and then fly. They know.


Note: It’s not often that a search of various sites and sources can’t turn up one of my sightings, but such is the case here. I have no little green flyer to show you, but I offer assurance that we both were there…for a short while.


Filed under General, The Roost

2 Responses to god of the flies

  1. Sandy Stott

    If we will see deeply, immersion suits us, I think. Entomologists last longer than gods, I think. Thanks for the story, Tammy.


  2. I swam last week, too! It was cold, but lovely. I do my best Bug-Gazing while swimming. There was a lecture about invasives where I learned about the Emerald Ash Borer, so I am now eager to pick another word when talking about my favorite bug (The Six Spotted Tiger Beetle).
    I did save a bee a few weeks ago. Feeling less like a god than an entomologist.