I’ve been itching for a little over a week now. It is a killer combination of mosquito bites, chigger bites, and a bit of poison ivy. I am pretty certain I acquired all this new sensory stimulation while traipsing through the woods of Lake Manawa in search of our wayward kitty,
With Murphy, it always seems to be a form of tough love. He is a very cute, fluffy puffball.
That’s why we haven’t killed him.
For those who have not grown up in the Midwest and may not be familiar with chiggers, they are a small bug that hide in the grass, waiting to get into the tight places of your clothing to bite you. There was a notorious incident my senior year of high school, when I spent the better part of a summer working for the Des Moines County Conservation Board. Most of the work was mowing the grass and cleaning the latrines at the county parks, but there was one day when the supervisor assigned three of us to spend an afternoon clearing a drainage ditch. It was hot and sweaty work, but, as it turned out, not a very long job. The three of us had the job done in a little over an hour or so. One of the other guys suggested that, instead of heading back to the shop (where the boss would only give us something else to do), we might just stretch out on the grass and listen to the Cubs game on his transistor radio. We agreed that sounded like a fine suggestion.
I don’t know about the other two guys, but that night I counted over 100 chigger bites, most of them where my jeans had hugged closest to my body. It still remains one of most vivid memories of torture I know.
This latest case is not quite that extreme. And I have been slathering on anti-itch ointment every every evening, and I can start to see the various red marks receding. Strange as it may sound, it is years of meditation that actually help in this case. I stay grounded in the present. I take almost anything one moment at a time (it is thinking about how long you have been itching, or wondering how much longer you may yet itch, that can make the experience all the more excruciating).
And I occupy myself with playing guitar, booking more gigs, and writing. And as annoying as the itching may be, it is tempered by the experience of living in state parks, wandering the trails and enjoying the scenery. After nearly two years of walking around Lake Arbor, Rufus and I are now enjoying walks in beautiful places across this country. I enjoy the scenery, while Rufus has been taking in thousands of new smells.
Today, we pack up camp and head for Michigan, where I have two more gigs this coming weekend. That sort of itch (the itch to keep moving on), that sort of itch I can handle very well.