Opinion Columns & Blogs

Hook, line and Trombidiidaes


It’s Tuesday night, August 8, and, frankly, I’m pretty miserable. What encourages me, though, is that I’ve been here before. I know that in four or five more days, it will be all right, but for now, I’m pretty miserable.

Last Sunday afternoon, late, about 7 p.m., I decided I’d go and do a little “light” fishing. Nothing serious, but just cast a few times, and see if I could catch a bass or two. I started to take just one spinner, a pair of pliers, and two or three plastic worms. Then, I thought: If I’m going, I might as well take my tackle box. And, so I was off, with our “put-out” dog, Cloie, in the Kubota ATV with me. Life was good. Cloie was happy and I was, too.

We’ve cut the grass around our ponds recently, and everything looked good. For “dog days,” the weather was cool – perhaps in the mid-80’s. A slight breeze out of the west – good. Like I wrote above, lots of cleaning up around our ponds. That made fishing from the banks more enjoyable. I got close to the water and cast with ease. The water color was good. My thought: I believe I’ll catch a few, and I did.

I had on blue jeans, crocs, and a long sleeve shirt. You’ll see why this dress report may be germane as I continue. But, the bottom line on the fishing is that I caught six. Nothing big, maybe one that weighed three pounds, but probably two and a half.

I fished until almost dark, giving Cloie the last bass that I caught just before we started back to the house.

This is not relevant to this story, but I think it’s interesting. Cloie, when she came to us, used to run through the fields and make the grasshoppers jump up, catching them and eating them. And, she’d fish daily – round and round the ponds until she caught a fish. Then she’d run off with the fish in her mouth, about 50 yards, sit down in the shade and eat the fish. Always, she’d start at the head and eat every bit of the fish, every bit of it! There would be nothing left when she finished. And that’s what she did with the one (about one and a half pounds) that I gave her Sunday night. She ate every bit of it.

But, back to the story. It should end here, but it doesn’t. In fact, it still hasn’t ended. I’ll be glad when it does. You might be glad, too.

Monday was a busy day. I had lots to do in the office before I left for Atlanta and a Board of Regents meeting early on Tuesday morning. So, about 3 p.m., I was driving to Atlanta, listening to my Georgia tape with Georgia songs like “Moon River,” “Georgia on My Mind,” etc. And then it started. I knew exactly what it was. I’d been there before. Most of you native Georgians have been there, too! Redbugs! It was bad and I knew it was just the beginning.

Fast forward. Tuesday morning I’m in the Board of Regents meeting. Eighteen of the 19 Regents around a very large, square table. Much staff. Most of the college presidents and their assistants. Chancellor Wrigley. The press. The public. All in all, a room full of serious, well-dressed and seemingly important people. If I didn’t know better, I would think all Georgians were keyed on what we were saying and what we were doing. Regardless, I knew what I was doing, I was scratching. Not too much. Not as much as I wanted and needed to be doing, but out of necessity, some. I was trying to be discreet.

I think I must tell you unknowing, this about redbugs. (Or, as some initiated Yankees might say, “chiggers”). Either way, it’s bad. And, what’s worse is where they usually “bite” you. For some reason, it’s always several raised red places on your skin and with many of the places in the most private areas of your body.

As best I can tell, nine “invaded” me. And, two of the raised red places are on my buttocks (I hope that wording meets mother’s approval). Now, can you imagine me at my chair at the big board table (I sit at the front) with my dark suit on and trying not to scratch, but needing to. Trying to look dignified and at the same time, squirming and occasionally sneaking a scratch. I hope you’re laughing, but it’s not funny.

My dictionary under chiggers (red bugs to me): “Any of a various small six-legged larvae of mites of the family Trombidiidae, causing intensely itching when lodged on the skin.” I’ve also seen it called: “the insanely itchy welts.”

And, by the way, as far as I know, you can’t get rid of them. You just have to wear them out, scratching’em as they go.

Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.