This week’s excitement: I waded in a marsh with my new snake boots. I loved the sound of the water as I walked. The tall grasses attracted dragonflies and bees.
It was such a fun moment, I took a selfie…
When I returned to the car, I commented to my friend, “this is my Disney World!”
My friend and I left the Grasslands. During the drive, I looked down at my pants.
Was that speck moving?
I calmly reached for the closest weapon: Purell. I dumped a couple drops on the creature. I spotted another.
I was screaming inside my head.
I calmly said to my friend: “at your earliest convenience, please stop the car.”
I grabbed a tissue and carefully collected the two monsters. I opened the car door. I sat there a moment — rattling off the Our Father.
We got out of the car. I showed my friend the tiniest monsters I have ever seen in my life. We examined my clothing.
That moment was my worst fear.
I held myself together for a few minutes but the tears came. I am officially infected with countless ticks.
There were so many, we stopped counting. (If I had to guess, there were 8-10.)
I felt helpless. Terror and horror overcame me — not only for the present moment but for the future. We have a vehicle full of my outdoor toys: cameras, boots, Litter Patrol gear. How can we be sure everything isn’t infected? How do I decontaminate everything? How do I decontaminate myself? Is this the end of outdoor adventures? (yes)
These monsters were the size of the flat head of a pin. They had legs. They were beyond a doubt, ticks.
We got my new waterproof snake boots off. I couldn’t utter complete sentences. I pointed at the boot.
Another monster, a leech, bummed a ride on my new boots.
More terror. More horror.
I pulled out my emergency prayer from my head — the De Profundis — but I didn’t make it very far. My mind could not process the moment.
We did 4 inspections of my clothing. Each time the number of monsters removed decreased until we found none. But until the clothes are burned (my preference) or washed (I chose to wash twice), we could not be sure. The monsters were only on the outside of my pants. None were ever on my skin. None were found on my shirt. Just my pants.
My friend, on the other hand, didn’t have a single tick on him. None. We examined his clothing multiple times.
Reasons I was infected:
- I probably didn’t spray my clothing enough.
- I am foolhardy — ever in search of the greatest mushroom to photograph — even in the thick of nature, among the poison ivy and the blood sucking ticks. In the best conditions (open space free of poison ivy and cow patties) I will lie on the ground to get the perfect photo. I enjoy being close to nature (or so I thought).
- That wonderful moment standing in the marsh with tall grass was my demise. Nature, apparently, was taking note of me — and hitched a free a ride.
At least I got a shot of a dragonfly…
Don’t worry. I have learned my lesson.
Location: LBJ National Grasslands
Camera: Rockalita Sunshine (Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)
Lens: My beloved 100 mm macro lens (Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L macro IS)
Date: July 8, 2017
Notes: First photo in the blog is courtesy of Tore Bellis. That’s the last photo from the LBJ Grasslands. No more. I’m retiring.