I must admit being alone in the woods can be a bit unnerving at first if you are mostly a city dweller like I am.
There are shadows, sounds, and rustlings in the trees and bushes. Bears, deer and snakes around and you know it, not to speak of a fellow hiker suddenly appearing from nowhere around a hidden turn in the trail.
In my case it wasn’t this that had my imagination going but rather, would the ole chap with the family ties come charging out Calvary, sabre in hand, and avenge the Confederate cause?. The descent from Pigeon Hill was thankfully uneventful, and being a sunlit blue sky kind of day I couldn’t help but think what an amazingly beautiful place this was.
Surprisingly I hadn’t dwelt on the fact that these fields and surrounding hills had once been soaked in blood and filled with the tormented screams of 800 wounded or dying men! Somehow, save for the brief encounter with my friend earlier, I had been delivered into the arms of Mother Nature and all of her beauty and wisdom. I had found a new home, a secret place to come to and exercise and meditate. I was excited about making this new change. Life was good.
“SON of a BITCH!” I said the next morning as I scratched my swollen ass.
I quickly removed my pajama bottoms and headed for the bathroom mirror. Just below my waistline and unto my cheeks I was covered with about 8 to 10 knots as hard as marbles each with a little red dot in the middle.
I have had poison ivy, chicken pox, and various other itchy delights throughout my lifetime but this was absolutely terrible! No amount of salves, creams and ointments helped; and to make matters worse I didn’t know what it was.
“Chiggers” the doctor said one week later as I sheepishly pulled up my pants. She was almost certain and wrote a prescription for antibiotics. After another 3 to 4 days of “nature’s bliss” the treatment had worked much to my reddened relief. That is when the mental torture started.
“How did you catch it just on your ass Tim?” my friends all asked, or “Was she at least cute Holmes?” or “Just had to be a perv outside, didn’t you Timmy?” You know: the usual stuff you get when you cannot explain the unexplainable. I will at this point for the record say, “No, I did not have my pants off,;and no, I’m not a forest nymph.”
Perhaps the old war ghosts were having their revenge, preventing my cardio and calling into question if I should ever even go back? After all, I couldn’t afford to be going to the doctor after every hike with an embarrassing phenomenon on my butt cheeks.
Ghosts? Or maybe it was that lichen covered rock.