Bug Bites And Sunburns

While we were up in Maine I spent a lot of time outside working in the yard.  As a result, I became a feast for the neighborhood mosquito and biting fly squadrons, and also got a good coating from the sun.

bright-sun-in-blue-skyBy the end of my visit, I was covered in bug bites and was a bit sunburned to boot.  As I debated whether to scratch the hell out of the itchy bug bites (and, of course, ultimately doing so because I just couldn’t help it) and felt the warm tingle from the sunburned areas, I found myself thinking that the combination of sensations felt distantly familiar — and then I realized that I was re-experiencing conditions from my childhood summers.  In those days, Mom would kick us out of the house after breakfast and we would pretty much be outside all day until dinner — and then again after dinner, to play freeze tag or catch lightning bugs until it was full dark.  When you’re outside all day, a good slathering of Off! can only do so much — so my summers inevitably were accompanied by bug bites, mild sunburns, and the colossal itchiness that that combination brings.

When I realized that my condition was recreating a common experience from childhood, I felt a certain wistfulness that it had been so long since I’d felt that unique combination of bug bites and sun.  You don’t fully realize how much of an indoor, office-bound person you’ve become until you spend a good chunk of time outdoors on summer days and then deal with the consequences.  So, even though I’m still working away at a few of the especially itchy spots, I was glad for the bites and the burn and their reminder of the sunny days of yore when spending hours outside was just how the world worked.

Want to feel like a kid again?  Spend a lot of time outside, and the bugs and sunshine will help to remind you.

Beelzebub’s Bugs

As Milton recognized, every Paradise needs a Beelzebub or two.  Here in Antigua, the satanic actor is an invisible bloodsucking insect that has made mincemeat of my feet.

IMG_2355What’s especially devilish about these vicious biting bastards is that they don’t seem to bite everyone.  Kish, for example, has been left blissfully unpierced by the no-see-‘ums.  Obviously, these are highly discriminating creatures.  But what is it that causes them to shun some people while leaving others tattooed with bites that itch like crazy?  Are they some form of hellish punishment for the wicked?  Or is there something about my blood that makes it especially attractive to these misbegotten monsters?  And why do these vermin seem particularly eager to nibble on my feet, which are now dotted with more welts than the Caribbean has islands?

It’s impossible to resist itching the bite marks, but fortunately Russell suggested going into the ocean — and it seems to have worked.  At least, the bites aren’t quite as itchy as they once were.  Rum drinks and cigars seem to help, too.