Friday, July 07, 2006

Good, bad, ugly

My absence from the blogiverse this week was due to a relaxing five-day weekend at my parents house in the country. It was followed of course by a harrowingly stressful return to the office, but let us not dwell on the negative.

One of the great things about a vacation in the country is observing the good, the bad and the ugly of nature.

The good:
My mother has cultivated an amazing flock of humming birds this summer. The tiny flying missiles were almost a better show than the fireworks as they buzzed and dive bombed the feeders around mom's deck. Mom shot an excellent picture of one of them feeding. I hope to post it in the near future.

The bad:
Nature can be brutal. I was fishing off the dam one evening when I felt a slight tug on the line. I pulled the line in to find a three-inch long crawdad munching on the bait. He had a death grip on the line, so I brought it on shore to show my three-year old daughter. She'd never seen such a creature before, so she was impressed. But she was smart enough not to get too close to the business end of the claws.

When show-and-tell was over, I dropped the mudpuppy on the ground near the creek and watched as he made his way to the water. He was a few feet from the water's edge when I saw a sudden movement. A giant bull frog has spotted the movement and in a flash he had pounced on the crawdad and swallowed the back two-thirds of the unfortunate crustacean. Within a few seconds, the struggle was over. The frog had eaten the crawdad whole, except for a single claw that had been bitten off and lay flexing on the ground. I felt kind of like Marlin Perkins.

The ugly:
We've been home for a couple of days. I'm sitting on the couch last night petting Dexter the Dynamic Jack Russell Terrier, who had accompanied us on our trip to the wilderness. As I scratched him behind the ears, which he loves, I felt an unfamiliar lump. I figured he had a burr stuck in his coat from his adventures in the wild. But upon close inspection, I found the burr to be a small tick feasting on canine blood.

Ticks aren't allowed in our house by decree of my Supermodel Wife. So Dexter and I went outside to remove the hitchhiker. With some effort I pulled him off and decided a further inspection was warranted. We discovered another tick on Dexter's cheek (a smaller one this time) and two more behind each of his front legs.

We removed each of the critters with the help of some tweezers, and they were summarily crushed on the sidewalk by my Supermodel Wife.

I went inside to wash my hands. But for the rest of the night, I kept feeling "things" crawling on my skin and in my hair. That kind of thing really gives me the creeps.

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