Back in Fitou

Mosquitos love me. From my earliest days they romped around me and delighted in my juices while ignoring the rest of my family. I have been chewed and bitten in 46 states and on three continents. (I have visited four continents but recall no encounters with Australian mosquitos.)

I love spiders and snakes but detest mosquitos. If I had the time and necessary instruments I would trap every mosquito I could and slowly remove their limbs and heads from them. Perhaps, if my tweezers or forceps were fine enough, I would first separate each eyeball from the head and each abdominal segment from the rest of the animal. I hate mosquitos and do not apply the word casually.

Right now I’m sitting with Calvin in the bar tabac in Fitou, and there’s a swarm…I can’t really say “afoot” since they’re all over me but my ankles ARE bare so it’s partly accurate. There’s a swarm abuzz. In the big tree just outside in the Place de la République there is a mass of birds – hungry birds, no doubt, at 6pm – and they are driving the mosquitos indoors from fear.

In any other place in the world my impulse would be to complain as I scratch. I hate mosquitos and mosquito bites and I complain about them often, both while I’m experiencing them and many months afterwards. Disparaging mosquitos comes naturally to me.

Yet here, now, even as I swat, slap and squish, I don’t mind the experience nearly to the extent I would anywhere else. It’s more evidence of something I’ve said before – that when we’re inclined to be happy it’s easier to be happy. And here, I’m inclined. The real challenge is to call up that feeling in other places and other times. But the mosquitos themselves I’ll always hate.

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