Missing the Mosquitoes

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Summer hasn’t quite come to Wisconsin yet, but it should finally get here tomorrow. Temperatures around these parts have been slightly below average these past couple of weeks, reminding me of mid-spring weather back home in Toledo, and that’s definitely a good thing for my mood. Mid-spring weather was always my favourite in Toledo, that longest span of the year when everyone can keep their windows open twenty-four hours a day and no one runs their air conditioners, so the smells of new flora follow you around everywhere you go. It’s been nice to luxuriate in that weather here as I work on a whole lot of projects, trying to catch up on things that I couldn’t devote as much attention to during spring semester.

Of course, the feel of the air and the smell of freshly-blooming flowers are wonderful, but there’s a lot to be said for the visuals of spring, especially the early greens of May in Toledo. That was my favourite time of year to make the half-mile walk from my house to Wildwood Preserve Metropark, and having lived so close to that park for most of my life has probably spoiled me to natural beauty elsewhere. The sheer number of Wildwood photographs I’ve posted here on the .org over the years is a testament to how infatuated I was with things there, and it’s definitely one of the places I’ve missed the most since I left Toledo some eighteen months ago.

If there’s one unpleasant thing about Wildwood in the warmer months, though, it’s the mosquitoes. Toledo has always been prime mosquito territory (that’s what happens when you build your city on old swampland), but the way that the trees in Wildwood trap so much moisture in there makes it a fertile breeding ground for those bloodsuckers. That so many Toledoans brave the bites, and continue to fill up Wildwood day after day in the summer, shows just how beloved the landscapes are over there, and I’m sure that continues to be just as true today as it was when I was living practically next door to the park.

The fact that I’ve always had a fondness for black clothing didn’t do me any favours when I went to walk in Wildwood over the summer. I’ve somewhat diversified my wardrobe since then, but most of my twenties were spent in black sweatpants and a black hoodie over a t-shirt of a musician/band I loved, and black bucket hats have become inextricable with my overall appearance these past twenty years. I was pretty much a walking beacon for mosquitoes everywhere I went in Toledo, but at Wildwood I was public enemy number one for all those bloodthirsty bastards. I still put up with it, though, because when I needed a walk at Wildwood, I’d put up with anything to get it.

I mention this today because I was reminded even more of Wildwood this past Sunday. We had another day in the mid-seventies (Fahrenheit) in terms of the temperature, which isn’t too different from how things have been here for the past couple of weeks. We had some showers in the early afternoon, though, and the humidity shot up to the point where I could look out the window at the treetops here, and for a brief moment I was reminded even more of Wildwood than I normally am, especially those days when I’d get eaten alive while I walked there. It’s not unusual for me to miss the trees and the water and the wildlife, but for a brief moment there,as crazy as this is, I found myself missing even the mosquitoes.

I’m not about to go outside and try to get bitten all over, of course, but the mere fact that, for however brief a moment, I missed the mosquitoes of Toledo tells you everything you need to know about the homesickness that I’m still learning to deal with here. I’ve gotten a lot better at that as these last eighteen months have passed, but I’ll probably never completely shake it, even after I finally get the opportunity to make a trip back to Toledo and revisit some of my old haunts. I’ll probably feel even more nostalgic if I wind up leaving there with a few mosquito bites on my arms.

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