I hate them.
It’s the time of year when gnats are everywhere….mostly in my eyes and ears it seems. We have a couple varieties at our house—one just likes to annoy you and see how many times they can make you swat while they bounce off your eyeglasses; the other is pure evil. The latter will bite, drawing blood and creating a spot that generally itches for about four days. They particularly like the soft tissue behind the knees.
When I was a kid growing up in South Texas, gnats were a constant presence. At our house we had an area under a mott of oak trees which we called “The Hole”. It was visible from the kitchen window so my mother could keep an eye on us. The Hole was a maze of Tonka truck tunnels and roads; many hours were spent there with imagination as a playmate. But the gnats could drive you away. (probably didn’t help that the kitchen drain extended into the sandy soil ten feet away from the play area.) My brother always told me if I worked harder (instead of playing) the gnats would leave me alone. I doubt that concept was original to him, but I learned that he was wrong about it.
After I became part of Jenni’s family we had an inside joke about the way her father pronounced the word gnat. He said it just like it was spelled: “guh-nat”. I can’t remember if that was a one-time event or if it was consistent. But we never forgot!
Then there was Jenni’s uncle who lived in the Low Country of South Carolina. The kids knew better than to complain about gnats around him because his response was always the same. “You know how to get rid of the gnats in your face?” How? “Cut a hole in your shorts.” Wisdom like that is hard to come by and evidently only earned through experience.
All these memories swirled through my mind yesterday as I flushed a dead gnat out of my eye. I found myself watering the flower beds with the garden hose an inch from my face. This seemed to alleviate some of my torment AND kept me from having to cut any holes in my clothes.
If you drive by and see Jenni and I swishing short, leafy branches around our faces while doing yardwork you’ll know what’s going on.
And no amount of hard work is going to make them disappear.