Thursday, August 18, 2011

Horseflies, or the lack thereof

Only in the past year or so have I picked up the habit of wearing a hat when I run, and this is mostly due to increased conscientiousness about sun protection.

Yesterday morning, though, I headed out without my hat, noticing only about three minutes into the run that something felt different. “Oh well,” I rationalized when I realized what was missing. “It's still so early” – it was just a little after 7 a.m. – “I'll be running mostly in the shade anyway.”

But then as I looked at my dog just ahead of me at the end of the leash, I remembered the other reason a hat has been useful these past few months: because of the prevalence of horseflies. If I wear a hat, they leave me alone, but I still see them clustered around the poor dog's ears and clinging insistently to her haunches.

At least that's typically the case. But it wasn't yesterday. No horseflies pestered my hatless head, and I saw no horseflies near the dog at all. When I thought about it, I realized I hadn't seen any all week.

And so I knew I had to add horseflies to the long list of negative factors that I notice only when they're present and then forget all about in their absence.

For me, the most obvious example of this occurs during power outages, and coincidentally, we had one just two days ago: the first since the winter, when we had an outage that lasted about six hours. If you ask me while the electricity was on whether I could go an hour or two without it, I'd say of course I could: quite happily, in fact. And yet within minutes of the start of an outage, it seems I think of a dozen things I urgently want to do that require electricity (or running water, which because we have wells rather than a public supply is also unavailable when there's no electricity, or Internet access). When the power went out earlier this week, I shrugged it off at first: the weather was pleasant, and we were using neither heat nor air conditioning; and unlike the more typical power outages that occur midwinter during snowstorms and ice storms, we still had hours left of daylight. I was even mostly done with my writing for the day. So it didn't seem like a big deal.

Except that I soon realized I wanted to wash the lunch dishes, and run some laundry, and use the vacuum cleaner, and look up a few items on line regarding our upcoming vacation, and send my editor an email, and...and all kinds of things I couldn't do without electricity. I never really appreciate all it does for me until it goes out; conversely, when the electricity is on, as it is now, I never stop to think what a pain it is to lose power.

Sore throats are another one. Every time I get a sore throat, I wonder why I haven't been spending more time feeling grateful for the lack of pain in my throat. Car trouble, too: whenever everything is running smoothly in the automotive sphere, I forget what an imposition it is to deal with car problems.

Looking at the dog as we ran yesterday, I reminded myself to take note of the lack of horseflies around her and also around me. It's hard to remember to be grateful for everything bad we don't have at any given time, whether it's horseflies or power outages or far more serious problems. Yesterday, while running, I remembered for a few moments, and felt more grateful than usual.

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