Monday, May 28, 2012


Last weekend I went out to Clear Creek to check on the progress of the raspberries that grow along the pylon line. I am crazy about raspberries, and wild ones have way more flavor than commercially grown ones, in addition to being free.

To my surprise, the blackberries were already starting to get ripe. The last several years have been disappointing for blackberries, but this year...holy cow! It's going to be a bumper crop.

This evening when it had cooled down to 80 degrees or so, I went out again with a little bucket. The raspberries are still not ripe, but I got enough blackberries to...well, not quite cover the bottom of the bucket. But I got some! And I ate them before I got home.

On my way back, I came across a handsome garter snake who was so sleek that I think he must have just shed his skin. He must have been irritated with me, first almost stepping on him where he was basking on the warm dirt of the trail, then sticking my camera in his face like some kind of demented paparazzi. I got a good photo before he slithered off into the raspberry canes, though.

When I got home, I did what I almost always do when I get home from even a short hike: dumped all my clothes in the washer and jumped into the shower to shampoo my hair and check for ticks. Once when I was in college I found a dead tick in my hair after shampooing, and ever since I've assumed shampooing kills ticks. But tonight I was thinking about that--no lie--as I stepped out of the shower, when a tick literally dropped out of my hair onto my shoulder, and it was kicking its horrible little legs in a drop of water. So I guess shampooing doesn't help, but it is a good way to check the scalp.

I forgot to put on any bug repellent before I went out this evening, so by tomorrow I'll probably be itching like mad from chigger bites. But it will be worth it, because those were some good blackberries.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What is the point of ticks?

I haven't had a chance to get on the trail the last few weeks, partly due to laziness, partly due to my work schedule, and partly due to me contracting conjunctivitis. Blech. I do have a day hike planned for this weekend now that my eye is better.

But although I have been stuck at home in the evenings/weekends, I have managed to replicate the wilderness experience by contracting poison ivy and getting stuck all over with ticks while doing yardwork. Well, okay, one tick. But it was latched on. Holy crap, I wonder if that might have led to my eye infection? I mean, it wasn't latched onto my eye but ticks are full of nasty bacteria and stuff.

I don't see the point of ticks, incidentally. Every other creepy-crawly out there, yes, I know they're part of the food web. But does anything actually eat ticks? And if so, where are they when I need them? I'm sure if you asked ticks if there was a point to ticks, they'd say, of course, we're all part of nature and also I have children. But ticks can't actually talk, so I guess they wouldn't say that after all.

As for poison ivy, I understand it. It doesn't want to be eaten or otherwise bothered, so it gives people a rash if they touch it. (That doesn't stop goats from eating it with no ill effects, of course. Small flaw in your plan, poison ivy.) I don't agree with poison ivy, but I understand it, and I wouldn't actually have poison ivy now if I didn't insist on running over it with my lawnmower while growling, "Die die die." My yard is still full of poison ivy and I itch intolerably all summer, but sometimes you just have to attack a plant with a bladed machine.