The precise difference between being a hermit and a recluse is not clear to me.
Having devoted the better part of five minutes to Internet research on the subject, I have discovered that the first known hermit established his hermitage in the Third Century, while one of the more famous (but not necessarily the first) recluse dates back to the Tenth Century.
But what’s 700 years among friends, especially when we are talking about people who chose to live in seclusion and probably didn’t have a lot of friends, either in person or on Facebook?
As between the two, I guess I would rather identify with hermitry, because hermit crabs are interesting creatures, than with recluseness, for the sole reason that there is a spider named recluse, and I am not into spiders.
Why, you might ask, would I find it important to choose a preference between these two lonely callings? It is a reasonable question.
Blame the mosquitoes.
Yes, those highly aggravating buzzy little creatures are pushing me toward a life of isolation. Them, and the sun.
While none of us can claim universal adoration, I submit that there are few persons on the face of the earth who can match my popularity with mosquitoes.
The three most effective ways of avoiding mosquito bites are to drain stagnant water, wear a mosquito repellant containing Deet, or stand next to me. I have accumulated multiple mosquito bites while walking the 25 feet from my car to my front door.
My brother-in-law can stand next to me in a swamp bog and every single mosquito will bypass him to bite me.
As a general rule, mosquito bites are nothing more than a nuisance, but this year, the West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, has been found in 48 states, of which Florida is one. (I am guessing that Alaska and Hawaii are the exceptions; Alaska because it is so cold and Hawaii because it is too far to fly, especially if you are a bug.)
In addition to the approved ways of avoiding mosquito bites, health authorities advise remaining inside during the hours of dawn and dusk.
Dawn is not a problem, since I am sound asleep, but by dusk, I am just getting my second wind.
And then there’s the sun.
At my age, we are advised to stay inside when the weather is hot and muggy in the morning so we don’t get the vapors or something, and to avoid the afternoon sun as a precaution against skin cancer.
Between mosquitoes and the sun, this pretty well covers the hours from maybe 6 in the morning to 9 o’clock at night.
We 70-somethings don’t undertake anything more ambitious than brushing our teeth after 9 p.m., so if we are to take all the recommended precautions that involve staying inside, we may never see the light of day again.
Such isolation carries the seeds of hermitry or reclusivity.
(S. L. Frisbie is retired. He likes people way too much to live in seclusion. And no matter how hard he tries to hide from them, the mosquitoes always manage to find him, morning, noon or night, inside or out.)