Sunday, 31 May 2009

The Black Fly Song

'Twas early in the spring when I decide to go,
For to work up in the woods in North Ontario;
And the unemployment office said they'd see me through
To the Little Abitibi with the survey crew.
And the black flies, the little black flies
Always the black fly no matter where you go
I'll die with the black fly a-pickin' on my bones
In North Ontario, io, in North Ontario.
Now the man Black Toby was the captain of the crew,
And he said "I'm gonna tell you boys what we're gonna do;
They want to build a power dam and we must find a way
For to make the little Ab flow around the other way."
So we survey to the east and we survey to the west,
And we couldn't make our minds up how to do it best.
Little Ab, Little Ab, what shall I do?
For I'm all but goin' crazy on the survey crew.
It was blackfly, blackfly, blackfly, everywhere,
A-crawlin in your whiskers, a- crawlin in your hair;
A-swimmin' in the soup and a-swimmin' in the tea
Oh the Devil take the blackfly and leave me be.
Black Toby fell to swearin' cuz the work went slow,
And the state of our morale was a-gettin' mighty low,
And the flies swarmed heavy; it was hard to catch a breath,
As you staggered up and down the trail, talkin' to yourself.
Now the bull cook's name was Blind River Joe;
If it hadn't been for him, we'd've never pulled through.
For he bound up our bruises and he kidded us for fun,
And he lathered us with bacon grease and balsam gum.
At last the job was over; Black Toby said "We're through
With the Little Abitibi and the survey crew."
T'was a wonderful experience and this I know,
I'll never go again to North Ontario.
Wade Hemsworth

Well, so much for that theory. I mean the one I had that there weren't that many mosquitos here, and no blackflies to speak of. There's a shit-load of the little bastards, both of them. I've just managed to avoid coming up to visit Mom when they were at their peak, or maybe she doesn't have 'em. I dunno.

Mosquitos are annoying, but black flies are of the devil. It's not just the biting, it's the swarms of them that crowd around you, trying to get into your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Fortunately it's been sunny the last few days; like other vampires they prefer not to be out in the full light of the sun.

I find they don't make me quite as itchy as they did when I was a kid and we used to go to our cottage in Muskoka. There were a lot more of them there, too. I figured for every wild strawberry I picked I got a mosquito or black fly bite. When I got bitten then I would swell up in red welts the size of a quarter, with a bleeding hole in the middle that would trickle for what seemed like hours. Now the bites are no worse than mosquito bites, which is not to say I haven't spent hours scratching. It must be my tired old immune system; it can't be arsed anymore. Just as well. I couldn't figure out though, why I wasn't bleeding now. I thought they injected an anti-coagulant to keep the supply flowing.

I was congratulating myself on having escaped that aspect of it, when I absent-mindedly put up my hand to scratch the back of my head, and found a little line of lumpy clots gluing my hair to the back of my neck.

Well, so much for that theory.


D said...

in case you haven't seen it, there's a national film board animated short of the song here:

... and by the way, blackflies pollinate blueberries. That's a much more positive thing than you could ever say about mosquitoes.

Ferdzy said...

Thanks D, I knew about it but haven't actually seen it.

As for pollinating blueberries. Hmph. There are blueberries further south, where there are no black flies, you know. And they get pollinated somehow. Just sayin'. But for the sake of your blueberries, I'll try not to inhale too many. Black flies, that is. It's every one for themself when it comes to blueberries.