doomsday flies

I'm under attack, ducking and weaving to avoid the animal that's pestering me, that shouldn't be out until spring.

I’m under attack, ducking and weaving to avoid the animal that’s pestering me, that shouldn’t be out until spring. It’s not a bear, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they are feeling grumpy like me, impatiently waiting for winter to arrive, to put a chilling end to the fly that’s buzzing around my head.

The sudden and puzzling resurrection of flies is a spring phenomenon, which is why I find it troubling to have them cruising through the cabin in January. I’m not sure where exactly they come from, spaces in between the logs, the roof insulation or other undisturbed corners of the cabin where they’d been feigning death for months.

Why do they even bother to semi-die? Why take on that pose of insect corpse, little knobby legs all stiff and dust on their wings, when they could be living the high life all winter? The cabin is heated, and (I shudder to admit) happy meals can be had off dirty dishes, complete with sips of water from the dog bowl. The bell pepper tree and kitchen herbs provide a natural ambiance, supplemented with fake sunshine from our LED and oil lamps.

Maybe they’ve just woken up to that fact. At any rate, their usual hibernation seems to have been cut short by reasons unknown to me, and for six days in a row now I’ve spent the early morning hours listening to the buzz and drone of revived flies. Giddily, they dive at the LED light behind my head, flying crazy loops right past my face and coffee cup, before landing on the window pane.

I’m hampered in my efforts to speed them on to eternal sleep because our lighting is too dim for murder. There’s nothing for it but to wait for daylight to finally creep into the sky, to make the windows translucent again and pinpoint the insects against the grey sky for me. I spend those endless hours clutching my tool of execution, the battery-powered fly swatter. Whenever the flies approach, I press the button and swing it in the air like a Venus Williams version of the grim reaper, but it’s a futile exercise in frustration. The darkness, pretty much the only thing that’s wintry about this winter except for the snow, defeats me. It’s then, sitting in semi-darkness with my fly-swatter, that I wonder if I shouldn’t inform the people concerned with end time scenarios about this troubling development.

Surely, if we’re looking for signs that 2012 is the year when all years come to an end, apart from the usual suspects like whacky weather and natural disasters, a first-rate sign of impending doom would be strange animal behaviour. As I sit gritting my teeth and swearing revenge for the torment of having flies orbit my skull like so many winged satellites, I try to think if this has been mentioned in any of the predictions. It doesn’t seem so, which points to a grave oversight on behalf of the Mayans, Christian sects, and general conspiracy theorists. Or perhaps this is the unknown trigger they’re all waiting for?

As the radio plays another jubilant weather forecast by Whitehorse’s CBC crew, ecstatic as always about the absence of winter temperatures, it gets just light enough for me to zero in on one of the flies. It’s sitting on the plastic insulation covering the window, rubbing its front feet as if rejoicing in a job well done. I sneak up on it slowly, cunningly circling to the far side so the lamp won’t betray me by casting my shadow on the insect. Fly-swatter raised and electrocution button engaged, I bear down on it with slow precision. The window foil trembles briefly in sympathy, and it’s over.

After the fly dies its second death, this one for real, not a stunt like it pulled off in November, I carefully incinerate the corpse in the wood stove to avoid a third rising. If there should be such a thing, a phoenix-like emergence from the ashes, I shall waste no time to notify the public waiting for a sign the end is near. But in the meantime, I’m crossing my fingers so hard I can hardly operate the fly-swatter anymore, and fervently hope that winter temperatures will still find their way up here and lay to rest the flies I couldn’t catch.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, pictured at a press conference in October, announced three new cases of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 as well as a new public exposure notice. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 cases, public exposure notice announced

The new cases have all been linked to previous cases

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read