17 March 2016

St. Patrick's Day and ticks.

We are walking by the pond and mostly what I'm thinking is, the grass is looking ticky now. Because it is. It was wet, now it's hot and the next thing you know, ticks have burrowed down your pant leg and into dog fur and there's nothing hardly as creepy as that. I've almost wrecked on the highway at 70mph due to randomly discovered tick. You'd think I'd grow immune, plucking them out of dogs, but they're just so gross. Those legs. It's the legs. Too many.

Gustavo only gets ticks burrowed deep into his skinny little armpits. We've had to practically do surgery to get them out. Ruby gets them on her neck. Otterpop never, ever gets ticks. And Banksy has only been alive in drought, so the fate of ticks in all that hair remains to be seen. The outlook is not bright.

You never know who you'll see at the pond. At 4pm sharp, the cheerful dog walkers who fling beef jerky at dogs show up. They're jubilant and retired looking and have a pathological need to fling beef jerky at all the dogs they see. Is that codependent, to throw beef jerky to manipulate the love of another? It works. My dogs see the cheery group and I have to gather and steer the other way. Gustavo tends to have seizures when he eats things like beef jerky, but they're just so cheerful and devoted to their jerky throwing that they always forget.

The derelict motorhome crowd loves the new porta potty out there. I've never ventured in, I'd sooner crouch down in the high grass risking tick invasion than go in that one. This afternoon the grizzled, blonde silent can guy came out, carrying a purse. Don't ask, don't tell. He seems harmless, I've seen him and his can bag around the neighborhood for years. He always looks terrified, and I think he's older than he seems. He doesn't like dogs and I wonder how he's still alive. We barely make eye contact, and he scurries down to into the willows.

The meth people don't seem to like dogs, although some of them even cart dogs around with them. They just don't like dogs that aren't theirs. And some of the rv crew have sketchy looking pitbulls, if we see any of them we just turn around and go the other way. I shouldn't lump all the rv people into one group. It's a legitimate way to live, driving around looking for quiet parking spots, just trying to live your life with all your belongings shoved into a mouldering class B rig that's seen better days. A way of life that's looking more and more interesting to me. I just don't like it when they let a pitbull out the door that's aimed right for me.

The drunk guys that claim the picnic table seem to have moved on since the rains, and the gangsters who do drug drops are possibly now on the other side of the street, in the little gulch behind the mobile home park. The bird watchers meander around with their binoculars. Everybody minds their own business, and everybody shares the pond. That's what I think. Most days, really, it's pretty chill out there, now but for ticks.

A fisherman came running up the slope today, yelling about a bobcat. "Did you see it? Did you see the bobcat?"

"Nuh uh." I just keep walking along, counting dogs and making sure the count is always 4.

"Better watch out, that cat is big, eat those dogs," he replies, pointing at Ruby and Otterpop. He has a giant moustache. Ruby's trailing along on a long piece of rope that keeps her from getting lost, since I don't think she can see anything in sunlight any longer. Some days she looks a little more frail than the day before, and most days now I keep her within arms reach so I could scoop her up first in case of emergency.

"It won't. We're fine." And we are. The bobcat isn't a problem, I do see him some days and he runs the other way when he sees dogs. The coyote is a problem, but we walk on the side away from the coyote den and that seems to keep her from stalking us. We had to stay away from the pond for quite a while in the fall, because she seemed extra hungry and was waiting for us every day, watching for us to walk down the little hill. She's a bold one, the south side of pond coyote.

The north side, it's mostly just the pitbulls we worry about. Drinkers go down into the willows and party and their pitbulls roam free. I keep an eye open all the time and listen for danger sounds and it's tolerable. I have eyes and ears in the back of my head.

But we've never seen the scary little leprechaun before. It popped up out of a gopher hole, near the ticky grasses, silent as can be. Just stared at us. Had a little green hat and weird crazy eyes. Nobody was too sure if we should go closer or turn and run. Pot of gold or spell casting banshee weirdness?

I saw this movie when I was a kid. Scariest movie I've ever seen. Darby O'Gill and the Little People. It had leprechauns and banshees and as I recall all took place in the dark. Those leprechauns give me the biggest fright of anything out there, worse than a Blair witch, maybe about the same as a bear. It was a Disney movie. Disney movies have a weird sensibility of what they think won't freak out kids. Bambi does the same thing for me. Shudders just thinking about the word twitterpated.

When this thing popped up out of the hole, only thing I can think to do is run.

We tolerate the pond. We watch out for pitbulls and gangsters, meth folk wielding tennis rackets and doing drug drops, beef jerky flinging retirees. Cops who want to hand out tickets to unsuspecting dog walkers. Coyotes and bobcats and occasional giant birds of prey. Ticks. All of these things I can tolerate, in the name of walking the dogs.

Now a leprechaun? It's the last straw. There goes the neighborhood.

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