Monday, September 8, 2008

Day 37: Julyflies

I thought of them as mayflies, even though that's one thing I'm sure they're not. My sister, after my crude description of them, thought they might be craneflies, so I'll call them that. They looked something like mosquitoes, without the bloodsucking mouthparts that earn those insects a place on the enemies list.

I seemed to watch the entire life-cycle of these craneflies over the course of a week. At first, they were only an irritating buzzing. A couple of days later I actually saw them; vast clouds of insects that filled the sky. Their buzzing was not rhythmic, but did follow a certain dynamics, perhaps diminishing at a gust of wind, and then crescendoing to one of many climaxes during the night. There were billions of them. The population of earth became flies buzzing over Buffalo Pound Lake.

When I returned from Moose Jaw they were no longer omnipresent, but formed distinct vortices, tornadoes of activity in the sky.

My last day on the lake, I woke up to a constellation of craneflies on the tent fly. Outside, their carcases were dissolving on the water, their purpose complete. The wind was going my way, and I knew it was my time to go.

I threw my stuff into the canoe. Nothing was dry enough to pack correctly, and I had to portage the dam at the end of the lake.

It was a difficult portage.

But the next section of the Qu'Appelle was beautiful. Gone were the mud steps that had been so frustrating on the upper Qu'Appelle, and in their place were trees desperately holding the bank against the river. There were great horned owls, coyotes, mule deer, kingfishers, turtles, blue heron, and, well, mallards. A thunderstorm came up and so I pulled over to stop. I found a great place, well sheltered by trees, and assembled my tent there.

When the rain stopped, I decided to spend the day. My computer needed fixing. I had heard that some OLPC's had developed a malady known as "sticky keys", and now mine had, too. First it would add an "A" every time I hit the shift key. Then, after almost every letter. I hit erase so often, the erase key started sticking, too.

The computer is held together by tiny, phillips-headed screws. They are too small for my leatherman tool to unscrew, but I had a bike multitool whose screwdriver just fit. I took apart the entire keyboard section, saw little that seemed wrong to me. There was some sand in the neck between the keyboard and the monitor, but that was all. I just brushed off the back of the keypad and reassembled the computer, without most of the screws. The parts mostly snap together, anyway, and besides, I had lost some of the screws already under the trees.

That fixed the problem for the time being, but I have continuing problems with sticky keys and so my cute little computer is sadly, often in pieces.

Day 37 ended: 50*35.732N, 105*14.350W

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