I don’t want to brag, but I have a superpower.
For as long as I can remember, since I was a little girl, I have always been able to sleep any time, anywhere. This superpower contrasted sharply with my older sister’s phenomenal ability to wake up easily in the morning, ready to face the day. My superpower does not lend itself to that skill, but it has really come in handy on trains, planes, in cars or on friends’ living room floors.
My sister and I shared a room when we were growing up, and our great differences in morning behaviour only came to a head once. She felt I had slept long enough, so she would try to get me up by pulling the blankets off me. I, without even opening an eye, punched her in the mouth. I could tell precisely where she was by all that annoying talking she was doing! I didn’t even get in trouble for that, as Mom decided it really wasn’t my sister’s place to get me out of bed anyway. Even as a baby I slept well and my sister fitfully.
I grew up on a small farm in northern Alberta, with all the fun and hard work that goes along with farm life. We raised two kinds of chickens, giant turkeys, sheep, beef cows and even milked a Jersey-Brown Swiss cross for a short time. We made our own butter and ice cream with the incredible cream the cow gave us. Summers were filled with water fights (on the hottest days) and mosquitoes. When I was twelve, my dad got a horse, but even before that, we had horseflies. We weren’t graced with blackflies, though, since there weren’t any big rivers around. And no-see-ums? We didn’t have ’em.
I suppose my farm upbringing started me off with a love for the outdoors. We played in the snow in winter, the creek in spring, and the yard in summer. We had a TV that received three channels: the CBC, CTV and “the french channel.” For the most part, my sisters and I played outside, despite the mosquitoes and horseflies. Mosquitoes really like my blood and I itch for days after a bite, so you’d think I would hide in the house, but that’s just not my way.
Lately, I have developed a few new abilities that help me whenever I’m outdoors. I have perfected the one-handed mosquito “catch,” and learned after many unintended mosquito releases how to then squash the offender on my leg. I can occasionally summon dragonflies to orbit my head, feasting on the mosquito buffet that accompanies me. I can squash mosquitoes inside my car while screaming along at highway speeds, without hitting the ditch.
Horseflies hardly ever bother me, thankfully, unless I am on the water canoeing. In those instances, my lightning-fast reflexes often enable me to squash the toothed monster before it has a chance to swallow and fly away.
Blackflies have taught me the most. I have been working on my “zen” perspective whenever they gather around me, thick enough to make it hard to see. I try to keep breathing, slowly, mindfully, and not allow the thousands of swarming beasties to disturb my inner calm. Sometimes I can do it, and sometimes, I run yelping from the tall grasses, cursing and waving my hands around like Kermit the Frog in a tizzy. I’ve invented some really great new strings of curses I’d love to share with you, except, of course, I can’t. Overall, though, I’m happy to be part of the food chain, contributing blood and chunks of flesh to the ecosystem.
What can I say about No-see-ums though? I can see them. Is this another superpower unearthed? Have I been granted a special gift from above? Perhaps not. A bug-repellent aura: now that would be a special gift from above. I’m still hoping for that one.