Archive for Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cat’s Eye: The adventures of summertime

September 27, 2006

They are as stealthily as ninjas, as invisible as air. They sense your presence even though you are oblivious to theirs. As you go about your happy life, they are waiting. They will cross the border and attack and have you for lunch without you even knowing it.

Illegal aliens? Maybe. Terrorists? Definitely.

They are chiggers.

A creature so tiny that you don't even feel it crawling up your legs. A creature so sure of what it wants, it doesn't stop to take a bite until it reaches its goal. The lazy ones go for the socks. Just a few inches of shoe to climb, and its dinnertime. The more ambitious ones head upward looking for the perfect place of resistance--the tight squeeze, the dark cranny. Their god is elastic. Elastic tells them it is time to eat.

And eat they do. You will pay for that 15 minutes of standing in the grass for at least a week, probably two. That burning itch will wake you up in the middle of the night, and as you slather on hydrocortisone cream and take another swig of Benedryl, you'll relive the probable time of attack over and over, trying to make sense of it all.

"Did I really stand in the grass for 15 minutes? What was I thinking? Did I really forget the bug spray? How could I have been so stupid?"

But it's too late for regrets. All you can do is plan for next time.

The idea came to me at 3 a.m., as my fingernails peeled another layer of skin off my ankles. Maybe the best defense is no defense. No resistance. No elastic. Somehow at that hour, it seemed brilliant. If one is naked, won't they just keep marching to the top of one's head and jump off?

My husband thought it was a great idea and thought I should try out my theory as soon as possible. He said he'd even stay home from work, observe and take notes -- all in the interest of science, of course. Unfortunately this summer's heat did a number on my trees along the road, and they don't provide the privacy they should. So I guess for now, all naked-standing-in-the-grass experiments are on hold.

But, chiggers, be warned: We can't see you, but we know you're out there waiting, and we won't forget the Deep Woods OFF again--at least not until next summer.

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