Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not So Nature Girl

I realized something tragic today... I don't think I will be able to geocache in South Carolina (at least not in the spring or summer!)

What brought me to that conclusion is a little day trip I took today to find the site of the old St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease cemetery. I discovered its existence while doing some research on one of my favorite places in the world, the St. James Goose Creek Church.

The Mayor of Goose Creek, Michael Heitzler, is an amazing local historian and has written a couple of books about the history of Goose Creek. I stumbled upon an article about the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease and the Mayors efforts to save the cemetery and erect an historical marker. I love history, especially about places I've lived, so I couldn't wait to go find this cemetery! I didn't even know it existed!

I knew the general vicinity of where the cemetery was located and it was only a couple of miles from my house. The newspaper article said I had to turn from Old Highway 52 on to Avanti Lane and I would be able to see the gravestones through the trees. I parked my car and peered into the woods and saw nothing but trees. I had a feeling that I would be walking through the woods so I wore jeans and tennis shoes. It was a gorgeous day and about 86 degrees. Before I got out of the car all I could think about was that I had to remember to do my snake dance while walking.

The snake dance is not really something I do around other people. I just feel safer doing it when I am alone in snake territory. I'm usually with other people while walking through the woods and my friends know how terrified I am of snakes so they know to keep their eyes peeled for them. Two sets of eyes are always better than one... so snake dance it is, when alone! It's not really a dance, but more of a loud walk where you take more steps than necessary just to let the snakes know you are there. I figure that if they feel the vibration of my loud and thunderous steps they will slither away. By the way, just typing the word "slither" makes my skin crawl.

As I started walking into the woods all I kept thinking was "what the hell am I doing?" The area was full of wood piles and crunchy leaves and the sun was shining bright. I was totally in snake territory! I walked around for 30 minutes looking for the cemetery and found nothing but swampland. I decided to go back to my car, all the while doing the snake dance with the added combo of the spider removal dance. I'm telling you, it's a sight to see.

When I got back to the car I decided to drive up the little lane to see what was at the end. The lane was really small with houses on the right hand side. One of the houses had signs that read "Beware of Pig" and "Pig Crossing!" Being that I was on the outskirts of town, I assumed they were serious. When I got to the end of the lane I found the cemetery and was kind of irritated that I did all of that snake dancing for nothing. The cemetery was in plain view.

I got out of the car and walked around for an hour or so taking photos. I wished that the chapel was still standing and I tried to imagine where it was positioned. There were a lot of brick piles but nothing that looked like a foundation of a church. Also, it seems that there has been some land surveying as there were small colored flags around the area. Some of the gravestones had braces to stabilize them and keep them from falling. Amazingly, there were still many that were standing on their own. Most of the graves were from the early 1800's and although none of them were unusual, the cemetery was still very interesting.

I got home around 6pm and later ran a couple of errands. Around Midnight I was sitting on the couch watching TV and saw something on my leg on the left upper calf just below the inside of my knee. I went to brush it off and it didn't move. I thought I cut myself and assumed it was a dried piece of blood so I grabbed a tissue and tried to pull it off. Again, it stuck to my leg and didn't move. I tried twice more and finally it came off.

It was a freakin' tick!!!!

All I saw was the little legs wiggling so I screamed and threw the tissue across the living room. After doing the "Ohmygodaretheremoreticksonme???" dance I calmed down and realized that I had to retrieve the tissue and hopefully find the tick. I certainly didn't want it to get back on me and I didn't want it to get on Maggie! I went to the tissue and picked it up and shook it and immediately dropped it. Nothing. I scanned the hardwood floors for something crawling and didn't see anything. I picked up the tissue again and VERY carefully unfolded it. Ew!! There it was! I immediately folded the tissue up and sent it on it's journey in toiletville.

For the next hour I rubbed my entire body in an OCD manner feeling for the brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, friends and neighbors of the little bastard that burrowed into me. It freaked me out so bad that I'm still constantly scratching and examining my skin every two seconds.

When I lived in South Carolina before I was never much of a nature girl. I would go camping every summer but never really hiked in the woods. Camping consisted of sitting around the campfire making smores and drinking. I was never in fear of snakes and ticks. In Ohio I truly found a love of the outdoors and whenever I hiked, camped or geocached I never worried about snakes, ticks or spiders. Here in South Carolina we have six different venomous snakes as well as brown recluse spiders and I am living proof that it doesn't take much to become a tick hotel.

I did several hundred geocaches in Ohio without ever seeing a snake and last summer I did a little over 10 caches in Charleston and saw at least 4 snakes! I think it's safe to say that I need to think of a different spring and summer activity while in South Carolina.

So much for my love of nature!


J. Pitts said...

Well need to get a video to post up on youtube of your dances.

Beth Niquette said...

I don't mind snakes, but ticks give me the creeps. Once I found one at the nape of my neck, and just FREAKED. Nasty little buggers! I have to tell you--I totally enjoyed your story.

(grin) Especially the snake walk. That is so funny!

Clytie said...

Once again, I love your descriptive writing. Almost as much as I hate ticks and creepy crawlies in general. Actually the snake dance is a really good idea. Works for bears too.