I have been reminiscing about my childhood recently. I’m not sure why, I have no desire to live there again. I’ve lived out west for far too many years. East Texas is a lovely country however and I love visiting from time to time.
The summers were glorious as a child. I knew what you could eat and what not to. I knew the poisonous plants that would give you rashes, poison oak, poison ivy etc., and the places most likely to harbor a water moccasin or cotton mouth. There were even a few swamps around and the occasional alligator and huge and I mean huge constrictors. The dirt roads were wide enough for a school bus and a pickup to pass. I remember this one constrictor had his head in one ditch and his tail in another. I treated that big boy as a force of nature and left him the hell alone.
The above creatures were fairly easy to avoid. Keep your eyes open and don’t go where they are likely to be. The real problem was the bugs; mosquitos, ticks, chiggers, and no-see-ums. These were the parasites, the bloodsuckers. Then there were ants, wasps, bees and hornets. These guys didn’t usually bother you if you left them alone. I had a friend that threw rock at a hornet’s nest, one of the hornets seem to follow the rock’s trajectory back and popped this kid right between the eyes, He was not a pretty sight. There was also a bug called a blister bug. If it landed on you and you smashed it, everywhere the insect’s fluid touched would develop really nasty blisters. I can vouch for the truth of that from first hand experience.
Loved the summer storms. The lightning would light up the night sky and the thunder would rattle my grandparent’s old farmhouse. The really bad storms, the tornado watch kind of storms, would have hail, high winds, sideways blowing rain, lots of lightning and thunder that you could feel in your bones. Loved them too, made you feel alive all that energy being released.
My grandfather had a dog named Chubby. He wasn’t chubby but had been as a pup and the name stuck. This dog was my companion and protector when I went on my summer forays into the forest. The woods were thick and in places the undergrowth near impassable. Chubby always took point and led the way. He hated snakes and killed several. He was bitten by water moccasins three times that I know of. My grandfather was not one to call a vet for a dog. Chubby would go stand in the stream and let the cool water reduce the fever. Over time he may have built an immunity to the venom as well. Chubby joined the family when I was one and when I was fourteen he went into the forest one day and never came back. Cool dog, he is a big part of my childhood memories.
The humidity competed with the temperature in summer to see which would be higher. The temp and humidity both in the 90s was not uncommon. It was miserable. You stayed in the shade as much as possible and cast forth a prayer for a cooling breeze. Of course, that kind of weather only made the cold watermelon and homemade ice cream that much better. I lived on iced tea. Still do for that matter.
I’ve rambled on long enough. The picture below as well as the picture on the front page of the blog are both from East Texas. The forest is still thick and beautiful in places but there are more homes now and clear cutting has taken a toll on that beautiful land.
Enjoy the photo.
Till next time, be healthy, be happy, be creative.