Eau la Tique de la Grrrrrr

“Mmmm, what is that fragrance you are wearing?” you may well ask should you happen upon me and my sweet doggy any time soon.

“It is Eau la Tique de la Grrrrrr,” I shall readily reply, a slight blush of pride at my inside joke spreading across my cheeks and nose… or is that a mild sunburn acquired during sunny summer walks with Dawny Virgil?  Yes, for those of you who have been traveling with us for a while and are curious, Dawny has had a wonderful stretch of good health these past few weeks.  I think the home-cooked diet is agreeing with her.

Dawny and I are now enjoying ourselves in the great state of Pennsylvania.  We have worked our way from the farmland and rolling hills that decorate the southern region to the magic of the Pocono Mountains in the north, visiting with family and friends along the road.

We are also settling into a new workamping job.  It is a nice mixture of physical labor and fresh air.  The only problem is that there is a lot of long grass and underbrush where we walk and surrounding the campsites where I need to work.  And that means ticks.

Did you know that Pennsylvania ranks first in the number of cases of Lyme Disease reported each year since 2011?  I believe it!  I forgot to apply Dawny’s weekly dose of anti-tick/flea spray before we took our first walk upon arriving at the campground near my brother’s house.  Dawny, great huntress that she is, forged deeply into the roadside brush, chasing the scent of Eau de la Groundhog.  Over the next three days I picked half a dozen ticks off of us both and found several more strolling leisurely around our little house.  Smoking tiny cigarettes, no less.

Lesson learned, I sprayed the herbal flea/tick spray that I use to supplement the monthly topical drops I apply to the back of her neck.  My favorite brand is Sergeant’s Green Natural Flea and Tick Spray, but it is very expensive.  Some Walmarts carry a cheaper version, Natural Care Flea and Tick Spray, which has a slight variation in ingredients.

Unfortunately, I continued to find ticks as we worked our way northward.  So I sprayed her every time we went out.  Then I started spraying me.  At this point, I spray both of us at least once a day, from the tips of our toes to the flaps of our ears, including my walking hat and work cap.

These natural sprays have a very strong aroma, consisting of peppermint, clove, lemon grass, and cinnamon oils, leading me to ponder the law of unintended consequences.  Dawny and I are basically strolling around in a thick herbal cloud through an area heavily populated by black bears, who have extraordinarily sensitive noses and curiously inquisitive tastes…

Eau la Tique de la Grrrrrr.

I sure hope my attempt at humor doesn’t come back to bite me.

Look!

Look!  Up in the sky!

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!

No, it’s Tarzan and Jane!

… and Cheetah …

How many of you knew that some of those old Tarzan movies from the 1930s were filmed in Silver Springs, Florida? I think I knew it several times.  Then I forgot it.  Each time.  It’s one of those odd factoids that is fun when you hear it, but it doesn’t tend to stick.  At least not with me.

It is a widely held belief that wild rhesus monkeys were imported to Silver Springs for the Tarzan movies to help make everything look legit.  After filming was over, they stayed.  According to good old Wikipedia, though, the truth is a bit more forgettable (as is often the case).  A fellow who ran the Jungle Cruise boat ride bought the monkeys and put them on an island as a tourist attraction.  He didn’t know they could swim, however, and the monkeys escaped, spreading throughout the Silver River basin.  Hollywood was just an accidental beneficiary.

Speaking of monkeys, or chimps to be more exact and respectful, one of the original Cheetahs supposedly outlived both Tarzan and Jane, passing away in 2011 at the age of 80.  A number of chimps and one little boy played the role over the years, and controversy swirls around whether this particular chimp was really that old and, indeed, how many (if any) of the movies he actually appeared in.  I don’t know.  I’m kind of sick of controversy over this and controversy over that.  Let’s just accept it and move on.  Rest in peace, dear Cheetah.  Real deal or not, I hereby anoint you as the honorary representative of the entire hairy little Hollywood tribe known as Cheetah.  Thanks for all the laughs.

Why are we on this odd tangent?  Because Dawny and I spent some lovely days and nights at Silver Springs State Park this week.  While I try to be ever-vigilant on our walks so as not to miss out on local wildlife, this time I was especially hopeful that I would get to see a wild monkey up in a tree. I could easily lie and say I saw one.  How would you know?  But, alas, I cannot tell a lie.  No monkeys for me.

The campground is not near the main tourist entrance (where you will find the headspring of Silver Springs, the Silver River’s famed glass-bottom boats, beautiful gardens, and mysterious monkeys, etc.), but that is an easy drive away.  It is walking distance to a little museum, though, as well as Cracker Homestead, a replica village of Florida’s colonial-era settlers.  Lots of school groups come to the museum and village to absorb a bit of their rich local history.  The picture to the left is of one of the buildings in the Cracker Homestead exhibit, a replica of a one-room school house that doubled as church on Sundays.

I thought “Cracker” was an insulting name and was kind of surprised to see an educational village named as such.  Wikipedia notes that the term Cracker comes from Elizabethan England, and is a reference to someone full of boastfulness and entertaining tale-telling.  That doesn’t sound so bad.

It reminds me of Tennessee’s favorite son, Davy Crockett, famous for his tall tales, who bragged about his life and accomplishments in his 1834 autobiography.  Some say he wrote it to bolster his presidential ambitions.  Let’s not underestimate the man, though.  Crockett was a hard-working frontiersman, soldier, businessman, and politician who was elected to Tennessee’s state legislature and later to three terms in the US Congress.  After losing his congressional re-election bid in 1835 and with his presidential hopes evidently dashed, Crockett traveled to Texas, where he joined the fight for independence from Mexico.  He died at the Battle of the Alamo the following year.

As befitting any good hero, controversy has surrounded Davy Crockett, including differing accounts as to exactly how–or even if–he died at the Alamo (move over, Elvis).  As for little Davy killing a bear when he was only three, we can thank Hollywood for that tall tale.  And don’t even get started on the whole coonskin cap thing.  All I know for certain is that, according to the photographic evidence included in this post (photos don’t lie), his cap size was 1/4 cup.

Then consider George Washington and the story of his honesty and humility when, as a wee lad, he admitted to chopping down the cherry tree.  It never happened.  We cannot label our first president a Cracker, though.  That story was made up a few years after his death by his biographer, Mason Locke Weems, a minister-turned-book-agent, who wanted his book to inspire future generations (and to sell lots of copies, of course) by extolling Washington’s great virtues, even if he took us there by way of a few … what?  Lies?  Parables?  Alternative facts?

Well, I believe if you survived and thrived in such times and conditions, you likely had quite a collection of wondrous tales.  You had a right to boast a bit and perhaps embellish a point or two.  Haven’t we all?  And if Hollywood, politicians, teachers, preachers, commentators, and writers (now that’s a shifty bunch) shape your words and shade your portrait–usually to suit their own agenda and/or line their pockets–well that is the price and the glory of fame.  I suppose it is up to each of us to sift carefully through sources and motives to discover the truth on our own, such as it is.

That ends our circuitous side trip for today.  Thank you for coming.  Watch your step on the way out, enjoy a cracker or two, and have a truly memorable day.  🙂

If God is Love …

 

If God is Love,

then Friends are God Hugs…

Thanks for all the Hugs

Sumter Oaks!

Sumter Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Florida is one of the Escapees RV Club parks.  Dawny and I have spent at least part of the past three winters here, since it has a good monthly rate for Escapees members who migrate south for the winter.  Not only have we been blessed by the many park friends we have made over the years, we had a bonus visit from a dear friend from Virginia who now lives in Florida, visited with beloved friends who used to live in the park, and will visit another Florida friend on our way back north.

Unlike the state and county parks that we love to stay at in the easy-breezy seasons of spring, summer, and fall, Sumter Oaks is more typical of an RV park.  It is limited in size, with sites fairly close together.  Oh, but it has such a beautiful spirit and heart.

Even though the park is small, it is bordered on three sides by natural beauty.  Donkeys on one side.  Cows on the other.  Swampland in the back.  Every year park visitors enjoy the resident sandhill cranes, rooting for their babies when nesting time comes.  Wild turkey, owls, herons, kites, bluebirds, and many other winged creatures call Sumter Oaks home or migratory home-away-from-home.

Dawny loves walking the campground loop hunting for the workampers in their cookie-cart.  It totally makes her day when she nabs a cookie or two from friendly fingers.  And on days when she is feeling poorly, she has friends who give her love in place of cookies.

On the human side of things, the crafty ladies meet every weekday afternoon.  They bring their Swedish weaving, rug-weaving, delicate card-art, magnificent quilts, and whatever else someone wants to work on while listening to the murmur and thrum of the happenings of the park and all in it.  For my part, I have enjoyed working on the puzzle that is set up in a corner of the activity center while visiting with and listening to my fellow ladies.  See there, in the photo?  If we were cows, I’d be the one peeking in from outside the frame to the right.  I admire how these ladies (and their husbands) are faithfully and doggedly there for one another, whether helping through small problems or a major crisis.

Although that was pretty much the extent of my social activity this visit (beyond dog walks), Sumter Oaks had a terrific activities calendar this winter.  One of their workampers, Nancy, dedicated herself solely to park activities, and she worked wonders.  From music, movies, and campfire gatherings to wine-and-cheese-karaoke parties and special-event blowouts, she created a magical time, bringing people together in good fun and friendship.

Yes, this has been a wonderful place to roost during late winter/early spring.  As the season’s shifting patterns move us northward, we will carry the warmth and love of many friendships with us.  An added bonus is that I found a workamping job at a state park near where my best Sumter Oaks buddy spends her summers.  What luck!

I have said it before.  I will say it again.  I hope I never tire of saying it.  Dawny and I are grateful, and we are blessed.