Jar flies: Simple summer entertainment


Some folks call the “Jar Flys.” daddy always referred to them as “July Flys” and when July and August rolled in, with hot summer days and muggy nights, they can still be heard in and around our area.

To me, when I hear them “holler,” my memory returns to lazy, sun-drenched summers of long ago. Playing in my old tire swing that hung from an ancient maple in our front yard. I was startled to hear that screeching noise. Launching myself in a standing position, my feet inside that old tire, I was able to see “what” was making all the “noisy ruckus.” There in the crook of a limb sat a giant fly, its wings shiny as gossamer. Quickly, I reached out and grabbed the giant insect in my hand. It began to buzz and carry on, but he was mine.

I ran inside. “Mama, lookie here what a bug!” I shouted. “He’s gonna be my play-mate.”

Brother came over to look. “Why it ain’t nothin’ but and ol’ July Fly,” he said.

“Well, I think he’s purty. He was just a hollering up in that old maple tree,” I replied. “Watch out! He’s gonna bit you!” I giggled as I stuck the big fly up in Brother’s face.

“Get that stinking thing out’a here, Pest,” he said. “I swear you’d play with a pole cat if’n you could catch one.”

“They’d one living under the barn,” I began, but Mama interrupted me, “Don’t even think about it!”

I took my “Jar Fly” back outside. With a long piece of soft string, I proceeded to tie my “friend” gently all the while he hummed a loud protest. Standing beneath the old maple, I released the big insect and watched him sail away, carrying the loosely tied string behind him. It was fascinating, the way the long twine gracefully floated as long as he flew. Just a country child’s game. Entertainment for a simple country kid.

And today, when I hear their cry, I am reminded of those lazy summer days. it seems as though I can almost smell the corn tasseling in Mama’s garden. See the way the winds blew through the huge trees in our front yard. I remember strings of twine, grubby little fingers clasping such a beautiful carefree time. One I would love to relive again.

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