I was knee-deep in a ditch of weeds. Clearly, it was not where I wanted to be. For a moment, I just stood there ... still and silent ... contemplating the what-ifs. What if there is a snake under these weeds? What if some little creature is living in these weeds and decides to run up my pant leg? What if large spiders are calling this ditch their home?
I knew I needed to get from Point A to Point B by tromping through the weeds in that dang ditch, however, I wasn’t happy about it. I wasn’t happy about it at all. Carefully, I placed one foot in front of the other, attempting to part the weeds before I stepped into the unknown. I know I looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care. My heart was pounding.
A grasshopper came from out of absolutely nowhere and bounced off my forehead. I screamed — one of those school girl shortened screams, but nevertheless it was a scream. Even though there was nobody around to hear me, I felt better ... Perhaps the sound of my shrill scream would send other critters skittering for cover.
The bee that was following me (I think it was mesmerized by either my hair spray or my perfume) was creeping me out. While I don’t make it a habit of wearing either into the wilderness, that’s a whole other story. Still, I had to deal with the buzzing, the swirling around my head and the distinct possibility I could easily be stung. I attempted to swat at the bee — hoping to send it into the next county, however it was relentless. Bzzzzzz ... While I’ve never been allergic to bee stings before, this would have been the most inopportune time, since I was miles away from civilization.
Up ahead, I noticed the weeds moving. OMG! What the heck! My breathing got shallow, as I waited for some unknown creature to skitter, slither or scamper away. I could have cried, but it wouldn’t have done any good, since nobody was around to save me, much less hear me.
I was out of my element. Yes, I grew up on a farm, but that was quite some time ago — OK, it was years and years and years ago. And since those long ago days, I’ve changed. That’s right ... I scream at spiders; I cringe at even the thought of a mouse; and snakes, bats and bugs send me into oblivion. Sorry Grandma and Grandpa ... but your little country girl has changed!
Safely at Point B, in my vehicle and headed back to the safety of my insect-free home, I thought about my journey through the ditch, and I despite the horror of it all, I had to laugh. After all, I was the little country girl who spent hours catching grasshoppers — the same kid who carried around frogs and toads — the same little girl who would find baby mice in the granary and put them in a bucket and watch them for hours — the same kid who would catch a spider by one leg and enter it into a spider race with my other country friends.
What happened? When did that little girl who embraced all the creatures of the world turn into a sniffling “woman,” who detests all those things that skitter, scamper and slither? I’m not sure, but I don’t know that it really matters. The bottom line is that I need those little insects, rodents and reptiles to stay out of my life. It’s just that simple.
Isn’t it interesting how life changes you? My little girl infatuation with those little creatures has turned into a dreadful, awful scenario, complete with screams, tears and other elements of which I’m not very proud. Years ago, you should have seen my chaos when a huge spider built a web on my front door, and another equally large spider built another web on my back door. I was trapped. I think I might have even called in sick to work — which wasn’t a lie, since those spiders nearly made me sick to my stomach.
It’s funny how we change as we travel through life. Even more interesting is the acknowledgment that we’re different than we used to be. As I’ve thought about this most recent episode in the ditch, I’ve come to realize I enjoy looking back to see who I was and what I’ve become — all the time wondering what changed me.
PCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.