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Posts Tagged ‘midge’

View from the window

fall colors out the window

Yesterday morning as I stood in the master bathroom getting ready to go out running, I looked through the bedroom and out the windows above the bed, and noticed for the first time how vibrant the fall colors have become already.

Already fall?  Impossible!  Yet, it’s October now, and we’ve spent just a week over a year in this house.  It’s been a good year, and we’ve enjoyed the house.  The future is a bit uncertain at this point, but we will move out in about 3 weeks, and do some traveling, and then?  A new job for me, probably.

I always look forward to the future and whatever comes next, but I sometimes stop and experience a period of sadness about leaving a place.  That’s where I am now– thinking “this may be the last time I walk this trail,” “this may be the last time I eat at this restaurant,” or “this may be the last time I see this acquaintance.”

There’s a school of Dutch painting that involves landscapes as seen through a window of some interior space, and I was thinking about that as I took this photo.  I certainly don’t know much about the theory behind this style of painting and I wasn’t under the illusion of taking an “artsy” photo, but now that I download the picture and get a better look at it, I really have to laugh at myself.  The blue electrical tape around the window sills glare out of the picture, defying any idea at all of artistic composition.  The tape was a quick solution to the problem of ill-fitting window screens, which were failing to prevent the plentiful midges from getting in at night, and everywhere in this oh-so-white house, the blue stands out starkly around the window sills.

So, I’ll take that as a metaphor– a cautionary note against too much nostalgia for a time or a place– and someday years from now, I’ll probably find this picture and remember the good year in this lovely view house, and laugh about the tape and the hordes of midges that occasioned its use.

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Midges

There are two public high schools in Klamath Falls.  Klamath Union’s mascot is, very appropriately, the Pelican, while Mazama High School’s is a Viking, which doesn’t make any sense to me at all.  At any rate, my point is that if Klamath Falls itself were going to adopt a mascot, I would nominate the midge.

The lowly Klamath midge, known to some by its scientific name, Chironomus utahensis, is the adult form of a type of bloodworm.  Most Klamath Falls residents simply know it is the annoying insect that swarms up out of the marshes and lakes mid-summer, forming small dark vortex-shaped clouds that subsequently get into the grill of your car or swarm into your house when you accidentally open the door at the wrong time.

We’ve been working on anti-midge strategy here at home.  Joda has a habit of sitting out on the deck after dinner.  Since midges are attracted to light, we’ve learned to turn off all the kitchen lights for a minute before opening the door (just a crack!).  Even Joda seems to understand that speed is of the essence, as we turn the door handle but wait to open the door until we see her hind legs tensed and her tail tucked, ready to hustle outside fast before we shut the door firmly behind her.  Early failures to follow this procedure led to piles of midge carcasses on the kitchen counters, along the cupboard door hinges, or for the ones that survive inside until morning light, on the windowsills.

morning: storming the windows

The midge is native to the area, and other than being ridiculously plentiful, noisy (think of an overwhelming,  constant whine), and annoying, they don’t do any harm.  They don’t bite, they don’t carry disease, they don’t crowd out other species.  In fact, as nature writer Frank Lang points out, their larvae, the blood worm, is a favorite food for larger insects and small fish, all of which are in turn devoured in huge quantities by the local trout that then grow to trophy sizes.

midge-splattered car

They do get so plentiful along the main high-speed highways that run north-south along either side of Klamath Lake that you’d think fatal car accidents could be caused by drivers suffering from temporary loss of vision at twilight or at night.  But, my research for this post didn’t extend far enough to turn up any stats on this kind of thing.

Meanwhile, the notoriety of the midge seems to give a small boost to the local economy.    Yesterday we drove by a carwash business with a sign promising to “de-midge” your vehicle.  The coffee shop in my neighborhood offers a frozen espresso drink called “the midgie” (my research on this front fell short, too, but I think it involves small green mint sprinkles in a brown frozen latte base).  And one of the bars downtown includes a “midgie burger” as part of its line-up of gourmet hamburgers (guacamole and chopped black olives are involved in this one).

So, despite some inconvenience and a bit of mess, the midge is a rather benign character, just one more part of our curious Klamath landscape.

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