Social Grooming and the Nature of Being a Missourian

We had an idyllic Hump Day ride. While our numbers were diminished by the threat of rain, so was the mercury, and I like that.

While riding today I looked down and realized that the trail I was on was not necessarily easy. Even on foot I avoided this section because of all the rocks; just a month ago I would not have dared to try this particular chunk; but I have learned to trust Frank. While I look at things and think, “WHAT THE?!” he just rolls right over. We are at a point in our relationship where my human brain worries and doubts while he just blasts it. Only once we manuevered over any given obstacle do I sit back and congratulate myself. In the case of this evening it was at this point that I cut a corner too tight and rode right into a lovely creek of mud. Hubris checked and humerus bruised.

We were escorted home by spatting clouds; our way was lit by peals of lightening and thunder applauded us. Mother Nature levied her version of Shaken Baby Syndrome on the new-sprung leaves. I give thanks for walls and roof and revel in the borrowed time on the trails.

While generally happy to march around the house playing the “is it mud or bruise?” game with myself, I was quick to clean up when I got home from today’s ride. “Why?” you ask. Here, let me show you:

Well, not quite, but you get the idea.


I’ll spare you the gory details of the back story, suffice it to say it involved weeks of gutting/swabbing a puss oozing chasm in the back of my leg with a Q-tip rod dipped in Iodine.

In 1985 an egregiously misinformed State Governor Ashcroft signed Honeybees into being our “State Insect.” Since that time, the ticks have rallied their numbers making every outdoor-faring Missourian aware that it is they who rule the state. They dominated the after-ride conversation the way weather does an English tea-party.

On a different note, did you know we have a “State Grape”? Check it out:

I could write an entire blog ranting about this (ticks, not Norton Grapes). How you can’t squash them and how rudely indifferent they are to your efforts to do so. How they crawl unabashedly toward your None of Your Business Districts. Then, even hours after you are safely home and have insisted that every family member and visiting acquaintance check you, phantom creepies send you into hysterical conniptions.

But in the end we are Missourians, and we must decide: isn’t it worth it to get out and enjoy the song of the Native Bluebird, and the sight of the Flowering Dogwood? To enjoy the crunch of the Eastern Black Walnut or the bones of the Duck Billed Dinosaur under your tires? To dodge around a mule (seriously, that is our stats animal?) to the strums of a fiddle and feel the brush of the Big Bluestem Grass as it transfers an arachnid vector “of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, Q fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, tick-borne relapsing fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and tick-borne meningoencephalitis, as well as bovine anaplasmosis.”

Well, probably not, but that’s why God gave us DEET.

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