Are you a snack?

If you happen to be scratching your head or other areas of your body as you read this, then you too may be the treat every tiny critter in your yard craves.

This writer’s relationship with the visible and invisible denizens of the earth has evolved. She still recalls the first taste a sneaky snake dared to take from her ankle as she played in the fields and meadows beneath the Bavarian side of the Alps. Since she is sitting here typing this column, you are correct in assuming it was a friendly, non-poisonous slithering sneak.

Even though the marks the snake made on her ankle could never be termed a love bite, we have to wonder. Did Doctor Frankenstein have a secret laboratory nearby? Was he experimenting on snakes and other creatures before he began the creation of his jigsaw puzzle monster? Were all his lesser experiments released into the wild?

Lacking proof leaves us with unanswered questions and wild speculation. But then, the world is filled with folk who thrive on fantasies, fabrications, and fables disguised as information.

Fast forward to Oklahoma, where Hubby and the future lady of the manor met. He took her on a fossil hunt which included wading into the waist-high grass. Within a day or so after that adventure, red spots covered her body.

Thinking she had the measles, she went to the doctor. As it turned out, her visit gave the doctor the gift of hearty laughter. “You’re not from this part of the country are you?” he asked.

“No. We lived in northern and eastern states,” she replied, wondering what was so funny about the measles.

“Those are chigger bites and should go away in a few days. The bites will itch, but try not to scratch them.”

“You don’t have a handy-dandy cure?” she asked.

“I’m sorry, but enduring the discomfort until it goes away is about it.”

Then the couple moved to Texas. Whenever this writer mowed the lawn or worked in the garden, her arms became covered in a red rash. “It’s chigger bites, or I’m allergic to yard work,” she grumbled with a resigned sigh. By then, she learned to put dabs of nail polish on every bite, but she used pink polish. The results looked like a connect-the-dots picture.

It did not take long for this writer to discover the downside of living in a southern state, determined and insatiable bugs. The ants loved her. “I could stand in the middle of a concrete-covered field, and the ants would find me. They must have an Elizabeth radar alert system, she often muttered.”

After moving to the Funny Farm, the lady of the manor became the most sought-after tasty morsel around. A day spent working in the yard equaled a week or more of pain and itching. But what can she do? With over 60-acres calling her to toil away in the great outdoors, she gives in every chance she gets.

Even though she enjoys yard work and gardening, there were hard lessons learned.

The lesson of the weedeater is indelibly ingrained in her. Do not wear shorts while using that gadget. It seems all those blades of cut grass become pain-inflicting projectiles which lash and lacerate your bare legs. That particular lesson led to wearing slacks for over a week to hide the unsightly cuts.

Lesson two took a while to perfect. Always wear gloves, jeans, closed-toed shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and slather your body with insect repellants which worked. Sometimes. The biting critters are determined to enjoy their snack.

Lesson three is a work in progress. Never assume the task will only take a few minutes and forget to implement everything you learned in lesson two. The results are severe bites all over the body.

The bites were the size of quarters and hurt. The pain woke her up in the middle of the night. Did she learn from her mistakes? Doubtful.

And the battle between the tasty snack and the critters rages on.

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