May 24th – Mayfly Day

Yesterday a couple of mayflies were spotted over the Moway, skimming across the river in the evening light, which means today will likely be Mayfly Day, when the spawn will begin in earnest. There were many years when Buentoillitants would have to travel outside of the City, to other nearby rivers, to witness the mayfly rush, so polluted was the Moway. Today, happily, like many other species, the mayflies have returned.

For any migratory trout, or more sedentary trout, in the river, today will be a good day, as the mayfly nymphs emerge from the mud and rocks at the bottom of the river and flounder on the water’s surface, trying to get their newly formed wings working, suddenly an easy target. Those who live in riverside accommodation put netting around any open windows tonight, to catch any wayward bugs desperately trying to breed in the short time they have on this earth. This may seem like an overreaction, but the swarm in full swing is a sight to behold; in just a day or two millions of mayflies rise out of the water and die of exhaustion once they have mated.

As well as fish, gablelarks and other birds swoop low over the river in great numbers, a cacophony of wings and noise, scooping up beakfulls of the insects, and occasionally catching a fish or two in the process, as they lurk close to the surface. It’s a common sight to see children running along the river banks with nets and sticky-switches (long thin sticks coated at the end in honey, syrup or another sweet, sticky substance), trying to catch the ungainly insects. Some catch them for sport, others to study them, to marvel at they way they move, the strange translucence of their bodies. A good proportion catch them to eat them.

It seems it’s not just other animals that benefit from the protein-rich bugs; humans, too, enthusiastically consume mayflies. Some choose to eat them raw, wings, head and all, whereas others choose to pick these parts off before chomping down. Both groups agree that the crunchy critters taste remarkably grass-like uncooked. Another popular way to eat mayflies is to sugar-coat and then bake them, yielding a taste rather like sweet crab, apparently. Frying or boiling are a little too rough for the fragile bodies of mayflies, and seldom lead to a tasty result, although large quantities either caught or collected after their death (large piles of mayfly corpses often litter the streets at the end of the day, when the spawn has ended) are squashed down into burgers and fried. The results are apparently nutty and earthy.

Besides the culinary experiences which await the visitor to the City today, there are some more carnal pleasures which may be sought out. Tonight is known as a night of passion between strangers, of love affairs that spark for a day and die as the sun rises tomorrow. Mayflies have long been associated with one-night-stands and they are even the symbol used by the Steadfast Union of Sex Workers, members of which bear an enamelled mayfly badge denoting their Unionised status. Whilst promiscuous relations are relatively common in Buentoille, tonight few will find it difficult to find a like-minded partner.

Visitors are reminded that tonight, as with all nights, they must obtain enthusiastic consent from any potential sexual partners, lest they wish for a visit from the Female Defence League.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Heel Dancing
  • The Undue Attention and How to Avoid It Festival
  • The Day of Casting