Given the consistency of the Caribbean climate, seasons don’t mean much on my island.
In fact, I’m almost jealous of my family in Canada who segue from the gorgeous sunshine-drenched days of summer into the frosty white landscape of Winter. Now those are seasons.
Here in The Bahamas, the year breaks down like this:
So Rainy We Should Probably Build An Ark Season (Spring)
Sweating My Ass Off Season (Summer)
Thinking About Wearing Long Sleeves Season (Fall)
Saving a Fortune on A/C Season (Winter)
Another helpful way of marking time in the islands is to pay attention to what I like to call, The Cycle of Island Critters.
Certain times of the year attract certain bugs, and it can feel like you’ve just eradicated one pest only for another to turn up on the doorstep… or under the stairs… or in the skirting boards… or behind that bag of expensive organic compost you never use and now never will.
At various times during the year, we’ve had it all – roaches, termites, ants, mice, and (thanks to the furry member of the household) ticks and fleas.
The roaches are a warm weather lot, keeping their territorial forays to the summer months, when they plan their skirmishes with the dedication of battle-hardened military veterans.
Their MO is to wait until I’m barefoot in the kitchen, engrossed in something (usually food), and then scuttle past at the corner of my vision. In this way, I’m disarmed, on edge, and liable to make a tactical mistake.
Being Canadian, husband likes to play “roach hockey” which is a complicated game involving a broom, lots of shouting, and brutal collisions with the furniture.
In the winter they retreat to count their losses and regroup behind the hot water heater.
Spring is termite time. As a general rule, termites are my favourite pests. They’re like well-mannered houseguests – quiet, mostly unseen, and leaving minimal clutter.
Come spring, however, they spontaneously get together and decide en mass to have some sort of wing-dropping party (insects are weird).
Being too light to sweep, their thin, diaphanous wings are a nightmare to clean up, so they sit there like strange confetti until the dust mites take care of them, we inhale them, or the dog eats them.
Ants are year-round guests. They can usually be kept under control simply by putting food away and closing lids and jars (assuming that you live with someone who is capable of this basic housekeeping… ahem), but the miraculous thing about ants is that they are creatures right out of a horror film – they always come back.
Like the villain at the end of the movie who takes five knives to the face and a shotgun to the stomach but still gets up to terrorize the hero, ants will always resurrect.
I would admire their resilience, but they are far too annoying. Any shred of respect I had vanished the tenth time a long trail of them marched over my doorstep like Napoleon crossing the Alps.
Some people say that mosquitos are summer pests, but I get bitten every damn day of the year – my delicious Irish blood proving irresistible no matter the weather.
We did install one of those mosquito-zappers in our living room (the ones that snap satisfyingly when it draws in a victim), but the dog had a conniption fit every time it went off. Apparently, we could have bite-free legs or our puppy’s sanity, but we couldn’t have both.
It’s impossible to explain The Cycle of Island Critters to those who haven’t lived it.
Thanks to St. Patrick, the most bothersome pests in Ireland are spiders, so people back home just can’t relate. Tell them about unending hordes of bugs and they assume you’re the problem. As if you’re some sort of filthy malcontent who enjoys living in squalor.
But any island dweller knows the truth – it’s not us, it’s the climate. When you get this far south, you enter a primeval land where the insects dominate through sheer numbers. There’s no fighting it.
Having come to this realization, I have a plan. This winter, when I hear the roaches discussing strategy behind the hot water heater, I’m going to ask if I can defect to the winning side. Who’s with me?