Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Poison Ivy, Chiggers, and Ticks, Oh My!

During the recent Firefly Festival - if there are tents, it's appropriate to call it a festival, right? - it was mostly the kids that enjoyed the tall grass.  A few of us assisted with kite flying, and outfitting the kids with bug capturing gear, but most of us grown-ups kept to the mowed grass.  The problem with us adults, is the knowledge.  We know how miserable it is to be covered in chiggers or poison ivy.  We know about tick born illness.  We know how that rush of adrenaline that comes from seeing a snake too close for comfort ruins our buzz.  We know all that stuff, and we mostly prefer to watch from a safe location, with a tasty beverage by our side.  If we got to go out there, we like a trail.

But what looks like a field of grass from the edge, is so much more once you step off the trail.  

There are flowers in there!  Layers of flowers on top of flowers.  Purple ones, yellow ones, white ones, and even hot pink ones.  The whole thing is moving with the wind.  A swaying bouquet the size of a field!

And the insects are loving the flowers, and the birds are loving the insects, and it's lovely and alive.  It's a meadow, really.  Chiggers and ticks live in meadows too, I know.

I get off the beaten path for work all the time, but I know what I'm getting into, and I wear sturdy boots and long pants.  At the Firefly Festival, we were all wearing exposed legs and the wrong kind of shoes.  It doesn't stop the kids, though.  They are ignorant brave.  

When my mom asked the kids if they wanted to visit the climbing tree, they didn't even hesitate.  Yes!!  My nieces had been there before, and they wanted to show my two little boy cousins.  Good luck walking through all those weeds with the kids, Grandma, I thought.  But once we realized Grandma didn't know how to get there, I was drafted into the adventure.   Doh!

Brandon still had the bush hog attached to the tractor since he had recently mowed an area for parking, so he went ahead of us and cut a trail.  I thought this would be perfect.  We could visit the climbing tree without weeds tickling our ankles.  

Everyone got a fresh coat of bug spray, and after letting the tractor get a head start, our adventure began.  One adventurous adult joined our party briefly, but at the beginning of the recently cut trail, shown in the picture above, he stood on the edge, looked into the meadow, saw the children running bravely ahead, remembered chiggers, and retreated.  One man down.  Only Grandma and the kids were brave enough to take the path, and I followed.  

About twenty paces in, I realized that there is poison ivy growing along the path.  Which means Brandon just mowed poison ivy, which we are walking on.  It's so freshly cut, that there's probably poison ivy vaporized in the air (that can't really happen, can it?).  It's mulched poison ivy!  It's going to get us!!!  I pointed it out to Grandma and the kids, but they didn't panic.  All good adventures have an element of danger.  

We came to a cross road at the garbage pile.  The garbage pile is a feature of our property that adds a second level of danger to any adventure.  

An enticing pile of old tires, laced with thorny blackberry brambles and near a mountain of broken glass and other dangerous trash that, although it's much smaller than when we bought it, is still a scary place for kids to play.  Just imagine how many snakes live in there!  Does it give you chills?  

We caught up with Brandon and the tractor at the bottom of the hill and showed him where to cut a gap in the tree line so we could get to the climbing tree.  Thorns and poison ivy on both sides, oh my!  We had to duck under vines, and step over logs to get there.  But we were so close, we couldn't give up.  

Because my littlest cousin was afraid to balance as he walked across the tree, I had to stand in the weeds on the ground and be a railing.  I should get the gold star for bravery, really, but watching the little ones overcome their fear was totally worth it.  My nieces, who last time needed me to stand there in case they fell, were so confident this time, that they led the pack, and were over the tree bridge in seconds.  Even the littlest cousin made it all the way to the other side.  Once everyone had conquered their fear of falling, and made it back to safe ground, I asked if we should get out of here, and they all screamed YES!! and took off at a run.  We did it!

And one of the best parts of the adventure, is that once we were back, we got to play with the water hose while we washed our legs with soap.  It wasn't too hard to be brave when Grandma and the kids were with me, but the day after the party, when I was by myself, I decided to retrace our path, still wearing the wrong shoes and with my ankles exposed, even.  That was even more scary!  

So far, I have no poison ivy, chiggers, or ticks.  A successful adventure.   

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