Saturday, May 24, 2014

Suburban Visitors Meet A Man From Mars

"There might be ticks," she said, stepping out of the car.

He replied, "I told you not to wear flip flops."

For the record, I don't own flip-flops or any open-toed sandals. Out here, they are not practical outdoors.

She doused her legs with bug spray. So did he, and he was wearing jeans and real shoes, good boots even.  I figured it would not be useful to tell them that I eat lots of garlic to keep the mosquitoes off, and sometimes I dust my boots with sulfur to repel ticks: not a great remedy if one wears that urban ubiquity, the flip-flop.

I also did not mention the tick jar I keep my pulled ticks in, until my bite looks okay, or the gizmo I use to remove several ticks a week from me.

That would lead to some sort of discussion about chemicals, and I'd get angry.

She got about 20 feet down our farm road and turned back. "I'll stay in the car." He said again, "I told you not to wear flip flops!"

I said something about street rods and the shell of a '55 Chevy I'm going to save, just to change the subject.

"So why are you selling these other old cars?" He asked. I have a few junkers on our property, none of them worth much, so I just gave him the real reason. "The wrecks are in the way when I'm mowing, and I've got two old cars already I fiddle with. We're going to cultivate the area to plant cover crops to feed our bees."

"Your bees," he said, as we trudged into the woods, me alert for snakes.

"You know, honey bees."

He nodded and was polite, but I was clearly the Man from Mars.

I didn't tell him, as I looked for snakes, that I'd said "hello, get a mouse!" to a big one that morning, on the steps by my garage. The serpent--a Black Racer--looked at me, stuck out his tongue, and slipped into a crack in the cinder block. My visitor would then probably recommend clearing all the undergrowth by the road, getting rid of brush piles, and so on.

Satisfied with the two pickup trucks he'd be saving from a rusty apocalypse, he and his wife went back to town. I'm sure they showered and deloused themselves. Nice folks, however, they are not my sort.

Later, another visitor came by, a talented painter and car-restorer who is going to do some body work on a car of mine. He and I walked to the garage to chat about the project, and he pointed to a patch of weeds.

"You know what THAT is?" He asked.

I looked, and looked back at him. "Poison Ivy."

He tilted his head but before he could offer advice, I said "We keep bees. I just string trim it, and we use no chemicals on our land, except some Roundup I paint with a brush on 'Tree of Heaven' after I cut them down."

Again, the Man-from-Mars look greeted me. But he too was polite and, again, not my sort.

I have seen the yards from the places where such folk come. Monocultures of grass not suited for our climate, foundation plantings just as water-intensive as the grass. Non-native trees far from the house, if there are trees. A sign on the lawn every so often, from a company with an innocuous name that cloaks its evil--GreenWays! EverGrow! BugBlaster!--that sprays poisons to kill bugs, all the bugs, or that puts toxins down so the lawn will continue its junkie life of constant chemical fixes. Meanwhile the owners of these properties breathe in chemicals daily, so trace amounts stay in their fatty tissue, accruing a little at a time...

I'd rather be a Man from Mars.

Here's a good test of a person I'd want to spend time with: they think the tick-jar is cool and talking to a snake is not odd.

I just pulled a tick off me, after my second paragraph of this post. I'll spare the readers a picture of him in the jar, crawling around.

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