It’s summer, which in rural Nova Scotia means that very large men with continent-shaped forests of hair on their very large bellies are removing their shirts and lounging, mowing, painting and otherwise occupying themselves posing as questionable lawn ornaments. In Other Lands one imagines that summer means golden haired goddesses in bikinis, muscled Adonis’ flexing on beachfronts, perfect skin, perfect muscles, the glories of summer. Here, we have glowing massive furry cherubs of genial good humor.
Their bellies are creamy white, merrily rounded and protruding like Mother Earth herself… except that Mother Earth would indulge in a little self-tanning before standing, legs spread, beer in hand, cut-off sweatpants drooping alarmingly, staring at passing cyclists as though it is the cyclist who is showing too much flesh.
Normally thickly clad in flannel doe-skin work shirts, these shocking sun-worshipers only surface in July and August. For the remainder of the year they slink back into the camouflaged underworld of big-screen television and Radio Bingo in dark basements known only as “The Man Cave”. Like robins are the harbingers of spring, these half-naked paragons of male virility proclaim summer to all and sundry.
I wave as I bike past.
I have a theory that most people look better with clothes on. I cling to this theory, clutching my beach cover-up to my wizened frame despite soaring temperatures and baking-hot sand. (I also cling to my belief that I am wizened, when in actuality this frame ain’t never been wizened… unless wizened means wrapped in bacon and butter and sour cream with cream cheese icing leaking through the seams. Then, yeah, I’m totally wizened.)
Summer in Nova Scotia also means bugs. Triangle shaped missiles of doom ricochet out of the forest in swarms large enough to pick up a small child and eat it down to nubbins in the time it takes to avert your eyes from your neighbor’s stomach hair that could be the outline of Africa, or maybe South America, or maybe Lady Gaga on her disco stick.
Deer flies, they’re called, but they ain’t wasting time eating no scrawny deer when they can feast on the buttered, baconed, sour creamed carcass of a school teacher on summer vacation. If they catch me lying on my back, sunning, it’s carnage. Picture a seal trying to climb over rocks back to the sea. Except the seal has to grab her iced coffee (half cup of cream, and Disaronno), her salty snacks (dill pickle chips), the remains of her lunch (chicken wings and sweet chili sauce) and her beach cover-up (mostly naked in the back yard…no neighbors…it’s safe.) and make the dash to safety, being careful not to trip over the weiner on her way. That’s enough time for those little fuckers to eat half my leg. Jeepy tries valiantly to protect me, but he cries when he gets stung, and we have to snuggle until he recovers from the emotional torment.
You would think that you could outrun the deer flies, if you were going fast enough. Nope. I have been in the Duck Boat with my love, going full bore, wake spraying, bow smashing into an angry sea… with a flock of deer flies cruising along beside us discussing their favorite Dancing With The Stars episode. They take home pieces of me as snacks to enjoy during commercial breaks.
(What is the Duck Boat, you ask? The Duck Boat is a mostly flat vessel built by my love for Himself to lie down in, fully extended, in the dead of winter, amid the ice floes, armed with various duck killing weapons, decoys, duck calls and a dog. It rides about three inches off the water, and when we go summertime cruising I sit perched on the bow like a squinty-eyed middle-aged peri-menopausal mermaid whose job it is to point out big rocks. I suck at the pointing out of big rocks. And what does “full bore” mean? Salty terminology akin to “give’n ‘er” and “goin’ wide open” and “crank ‘er open”. It sounds something like: “Hold on honey, I’m give’n ‘er full bore, gonna crank ‘er wide open and see what’s she’s got!” It’s really, really fun! Until you hit a rock. My bad.)
Deer flies do full bore like I do sedentary strolling.
The other thing about a Nova Scotian summer are the tourists. They come here, crisp and shiny like bacon on a barbque, and we can pick ‘em out of a crowd at fifty paces. It’s not just that they’re looking at things we take for granted and have stopped seeing in our daily travels. Like the mural on the hardware store.
That’s still there? Huh. Looka that now, it is still there.
They just look different than us. Cleaner? Newer? More shiny? Is it because they buy new clothes for their summer vacation while I know that Starfish Man has been wearing the same pair of sweatpants for twelve years? (Starfish Man? Don’t ask. Just picture in your mind.) Hell, I’ve been wearing the same shorts for four summers. (Don’t ask. And don’t picture in your mind. They’re just really comfy, ok? Wizened doesn’t fit into just anything, you know.)
I was stopped outside the bank recently by a German couple who were looking for a “really, really gud restaurant, viz zee seafood und zee gud wine, pleez?” They were charming, although the woman looked like she expected me to steal her purse. She kept looking at my shorts like maybe I was homeless or something. I’ll buy new ones next summer. I told them about our local dining establishments… Lanes and The Quarterdeck… and I sent them on their way, smiling and waving and gezundheiting. No. No one was sneezing. It was just my attempt at being multi-cultural. This is rural Nova Scotia after all… we put lettuce in milk, and cheese in French fries, and hotdogs in potato salad. A little gezundheiting is totally acceptable.
I wanted to warn the nice German couple about the half-naked men doing yoga in fleshy splendor. I wanted to warn them about the deer flies gearing up for their mid-day meal. I wanted to warn them about looking too clean and new and thus being a target for such derisive statements as “They ain’t from around here.” But I didn’t.
I had to get home and wrap myself in bacon to complete my tanning regimen before the summer vanishes in the blink of a deer fly’s eye. That’s how fast it goes. Come February, I’ll be missing the bellies and the flies and the Duck Boat.
Thank goodness bacon isn’t seasonal.