On our weeklong tour of the far northern realms of Minnesota, my family recently visited a state park that perches on a wooded island in a sea of wheat fields. The morning had been overcast, and as the clouds quickly burned away, it felt good to admire the park's picturesque lake in the warm sun before setting out to hike a trail along the wooded shoreline. We each donned a coat of bug repellant, but I was still wary of mosquitoes; I had swatted a few within only seconds of stepping out of the truck.
the lake, photo taken with my iPhone 3GS
The trail, a wide, mown path through the lakeside brush, was well-groomed. Grasses and willows that walled the path seemed to emit heat like an oven. When we stepped into the shade, instead of noticing the cool forest, we began first sweeping our arms to push annoying bugs away, then wildly slapping our faces, necks and legs in an effort to kill every single mosquito in our vacinity.
Coming to an oasis in the form of an empty parking lot, we unanimously abandoned our hike and followed gravel roads back to where we had left our truck parked in the company of the scenic lake.
In the afternoon, we drove an hour west and set up camp at a different park in a different wheatfield sea alongside a different lake. Here in the campground, we are surrounded by oaks, ash, cottonwoods and aspens, too many to count. Not a mosquito buzzed near me during the late afternoon hour I sat outside. The sun blasted through the leaves that rustled in a calm, wavelike symphony. Lulled by the sounds of nature, I gave hearty thanks for the breeze, whose wonderful persistence served as pesticide, musical and serene.