Looking around New Orleans after Mardi Gras has officially been swept from the streets, it's hard to miss the early signs of spring. But the calendar still says February, and these signs may feel a bit premature to some New Orleanians. An acknowledgement that winter (brief as it always is down here) just might be gone completely, means that summer can't be far off.
Listen here for Brett Will Taylor's insights on the signs... and insects... of an early spring:
No matter how long I live in New Orleans, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that spring starts 'round here in February. Sometimes, January.
While the rest of the world greets the season with a joyous celebration that winter’s icy grip is melting, in New Orleans we welcome spring with a bit more trepidation. That’s because during the two or three months that it’s actually winter, New Orleanians get to pretend like we’re masters of the Universe. That we’re the ones who run things. And then… spring comes… and Mother Nature slaps us back into place.
I was reminded of this fact two Thursdays ago when I came home to find not one, not two, but three mosquito hawks attached to my front door. You know what I’m talking about: those gargantuan mosquito-like creatures-on-steroids that look like they just buzzed out of Jurassic Park. Now, word is that they’re actually good to have around the house because, you see, mosquito hawks eat mosquitos.
Which is a good thing. When it’s spring.
But this is February.
The sight of these prehistoric beasts lollygagging on my front door made me run inside and immediately pull up America’s number one news source — I’m talking Facebook, of course (sorry, NPR). When my status update box asked “What’s happening, Will?” I said out loud, “I’ll tell you what’s happening: The mosquito hawks are back. This can’t be. It’s only February 14th!” I sent a query out to the Facebook universe, asking if I was imagining things (or perhaps still riding a rather potent Mardi Gras buzz).
Within moments, I had 15 responses. Each and every one confirming that Mother Nature’s Valentine’s Day gift to New Orleans indeed had been…. not hearts… but hawks. Mosquito hawks.
My friend Whitney told me that the winged monsters were already in her house. “They like to die in my kitchen sink,” she lamented.
My friend, Remy, who, as an entomologist actually knows a thing or two about insects, said that “mosquito hawks” was a misnomer. “They’re called crane flies,” she corrected. “Tipulidae is their formal name. Oh, and they don’t eat mosquitos.”
My Facebook friend Brenda took immediate umbrage with Remy bringing science into the discussion. In true New Orleans fashion, Brenda responded that she didn’t care what anyone else said and she sure as heck couldn’t pronounce “tipulidae” (by the way, I’m not sure I can either). “Those ARE mosquito hawks,” Brenda insisted, in all caps. “And they most definitely do eat mosquitos!”
Leaving my two friends to arm wrestle over the difference between scientific fact and New Orleans truth, I got up from my desk and looked out into my back yard.
February 14th and it already was a jungle out there.
“It’s only the beginning,” whispered the tipulidae that was now inside my house. “Resistance is futile.”
To read a related article written by Brett Will Taylor, visit Nolavie.com.