Rural Living

Summer Poultice

Polishing Off Chiggers in Flamingo Pink


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Can you stand one more column from me that rants about summer?

I know, I know. Most of you are swanning around, sunning yourselves, tending your vegetable and flower gardens. You’re cooking out on your big gas grill, and perhaps taking frequent dips in your above- or, if you’re very lucky, in-ground pools.

I am not.

I am staying inside except when absolutely necessary. There are too many dangers lurking out there to suit me. In winter, one of my favorite seasons, the only danger is ice. I can deal with that. In autumn, which is thank heavens on the horizon, there is absolutely nothing to fear. I adore autumn.

This week, I became reacquainted with another of summer’s dangers: Chiggers. Once, when I was splayed on the ground feeling around for a date etched into an old tombstone, I later learned a lot about chiggers. They are horrid, miniscule menaces that burrow under your skin. You itch like crazy. Scratching feels so awfully good that the fact that you draw blood while doing it simply does not matter.

Yesterday, an old friend came up to her house here in Bath. She’s one of the lucky ones who can enjoy city and rural living, whenever she so desires. She decided, as city folks do when they get to the country, to do some yard work.

She discovered chiggers.

Thus it was that, when we went to dinner last night, she was fashionably dressed but, to my immediate concern, was covered with bright pink dots. The dots were a particularly attractive shade of flamingo-colored nail polish.

“What in the world have you done?” I wondered. “Is that a new fashion?”

“Chiggers,” she said. “You have to dot them with nail polish to kill them.”

“Oh. Well I wish you’d called me; I have plenty of clear nail polish.”

“Clear won’t work; has to be colored, the darker the better.”

“Oh. Dear.”

You know, they make black nail polish now, although I am curious as to just why. The only reason I can imagine to wear black nail polish is if you are, say, an ardent gardener and can’t get your nails ever quite clean. But my guess is, nail polish is pretty much useless for ardent gardeners.

Anyway, I am glad my friend did not use the royal purple nail polish I “regifted” to her after some well-meaning friend gave it to me. While I do love a royal purple shirt or sweater, when I tried the polish on my nails, it was so startling I could concentrate on nothing else.

So, there we were in a fancy restaurant, me and my friend festooned with flamingo-pink dots. People pretended not to notice. Perhaps they chalked it up to another one of Margo’s nutty pals. I hope no one thought it was a hot new fashion, and hurried home to grab the nail polish and hop aboard the trend train. If you happen to spot one of these spotted ladies — I cannot imagine a manly man spackling himself with pink nail polish — know that either a) she is afflicted with chiggers or, b) she is woefully misguided as to current hipster fads. (The fact that I still use the word “hipster” shows just how fashionable I am.)

I know I waxed rather poetic a few years ago about gardening. Between the weeds and the thorns and the bugs and the hornets that await stealthily in their hidden underground nests, I have since revised that hobby. My new tactic is this: Buy pretty pink and purple flowers. Plant them some early morning or evening. Head inside, stop at the door, and shout, “You’re on your own!” It seems to work rather well.

I sincerely hope your summer is going swimmingly. As for me, the closest I venture to the out of doors is my screened porch. That is where I am eating dinners that consist entirely of ice cream, or cereal. And paint my fingernails a bright flamingo pink.

To order Margo Oxendine’s A Party of One, email, or call 540-468-2147 Mon-Thurs from 9-5.


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