At 9 a.m. I boarded a plane in Victoria, and four airports later (including one unexpected cancellation and a reroute) I find myself in a van headed from Regina to Swift Current at dusk for a small-town arts festival. I remember, as I have driven these Saskatchewan roads before, that driving through the Prairies is like every scene from The Flintstones. Just passing the same house, boulder and tree over and over again.
With the stress of the day weighing on my eyes, I hear a light rain start to hit the van. The constant tapping of water against the glass lulls me to sleep and I close my eyes. I open them moments later with the realization that there are no clouds in the sky, so how could there be rain? The kid driving hits the windshield wipers and I have a front-row seat to the carnage of thousands of bugs being scraped across the windshield. It’s an Armageddon of ant-sized proportions. It wasn’t rain, people. It was bugs.
Once we reached Swift Current I was dropped off at the house where I was being billeted. Normally I stay in hotels, but this being a small town, I figured a house might be better than the Motel 6. Since one of my flights was cancelled, I ended up arriving later than planned. When I arrived, the light was on outside but it seemed like my hosts were asleep due to the late hour. I was told I was staying in the basement, so I quietly opened the door to the house, put my bag in the empty bedroom and got in the shower. It was only once I was standing naked in the shower in a house I had never been to, owned by a couple I had yet to meet, that I thought to myself: ‘What if I’m in the wrong house?’ What would they do when they found a chubby stand-up comedian, naked, in their house. I would look like the worlds strangest burglar. “What are you doing in our shower?” “Theft makes me sweaty!”
I have never been to this part of the country in the summer before, and while I felt badly for the blanket of insects that speckled the hood of our vehicle like a Jackson Pollock painting, these feelings soon faded as I was introduced to the largest mosquitoes I have ever seen. I think perhaps ‘small horse’ may be more fitting than ‘large mosquitoes.’ They take so much blood its like an involuntary donor clinic. It’s one of the rare times I am happy to be so large. If they ever bit somebody smaller – that person would die. Temperatures are in the 30s, the humidity is in the 90s, the bugs are the size of cars.
I don’t know if hell exists, people, but if it does … it might be Saskatchewan.