A few mornings ago I stepped outside and ambled around to the narrow streamside deck which runs parallel to the river, across what we consider the front of the cottage. The view overlooks the pool below the big riffle. From this vantage point above water's surface, I can often spot a smallmouth bass—or more likely, one of the several resident carp—feeding in the shallows along the rocky edge.
However, it wasn't a fish in the water below that caught my eye, but a bunch of insects clinging to the limestone blocks of the cottage's exterior wall. Mayflies, large ones, at least a hundred or more. A sight which immediately warmed this old trout bum's soon-to-be-accelerated heart—since we incorrigible fly fishermen, who delight in angling for trout, hold the mayfly second in importance and veneration only to the fish themselves.
Mayflies often emerge from the pool, generally hatching at twilight or well into the night. They're favorite treats of swallows and bats and cedar waxwings—but also scarfed up by bass and minnows, catfish, frogs, queen snakes, crayfish, and everything else which creeps, hops, flutters, slithers, swims, or wings near, in, or above the river.
In spite of their looks—which I deem beautiful, though you, lacking my bias, might call something else—winged mayflies neither feed nor bite, can't, in fact, and are perfectly harmless. While my mayfly identification skills are a bit rusty, considering the slow current, warm water, and partially mucky-bottom makeup of the pool, and the insect's almost two inch length—not counting the trio of extending tails, or cerci—I suspect it's a species of Hexagenia.
Incidentally, I made the mayfly's portrait on my birthday, the day before having pacemaker surgery. As a fellow who pays attention to such natural signs, and because the mayfly just might be my favorite insect, I took their mass appearance on my cottage wall (and the nearby grapevine where I found my photo's subject) as a favorable portent.
Hey, I'm charmed by mayflies. And at that point I figured a bit of bolstering-up from a bunch of pretty bugs couldn't hurt. Moreover, they've proven to be wonderfully right.