Why is it that we in the northern climes pine all through the grey days of winter for summer to arrive? Because as sure as hurricanes and heat waves, the dog days, motionless hot air masquerading as a wall, arrive along with buzzing, stinging insects. I cut my fingernails to the top of the nail bed so I can’t scratch up a case of impetigo, reversed my daily walk routine from early morning to late evening, and wash my face with sunscreen.

Ah, but it is the time of mangoes, watermelon, and blueberries. I learned how to make Greek yogurt to complement the season’s best fruit. I drink watermelon juice and grill mangos to eat with any meat or fish. This is not winter fare! In the winter, I eat thick soups, curries, and comfort foods that warm the soul and the body.

I got a case of chiggers. I didn’t know it until I was on my commute to work. Out of nowhere, the bottom inside of my right thigh began to tingle and then  itch mercilessly. I squirmed, I scratched, and I shook until the car wobbled. I pulled off the road, got out, and searched for “ants in my pants.”  I could see nothing. I could find nothing. That’s the malevolence of chiggers: they burrow under the skin and then strike without warning. They are the ninjas of the summer bug world.

I Googled my bug infestation and settled on chiggers and the perfect remedy: Chigger-xx, on sale at Walmart ($3.96), Walgreens ($4.16), and Amazon ($14.00). Walmart was out of stock. The staff at Walgreens never heard of it. Amazon it was, but I have to wait two days until my order arrives. In the meantime, it’s Benadryl, anti-itch cream, and calming cream. If they don’t work, I will coat my skin with clear nail polish and suffocate the little bastards.

When summer seems a disappointment and I long for a snowy white winter, I remember listening to my dad singing in his lovely tenor voice, “Summertime and the livin’ is easy; fish are jumping and the cotton is high.”* Then I go put some more cream on my leg.

*From Porgy & Bess

Published by Carole J. Garrison

I’m a conversationalist, an observer, a passionate participant in life. And now, in my later years, I’m a recorder of the lessons of my life through essays, stories, and novels. I live in the fourth moment of life, just outside the normal distribution of most people and it is from this place that I write.

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