I love to hike (locally) with my kids. I love exploring new trails and doing trash-pick-up days. I love letting them wander off the trail in search of bugs or animals or an adventure. I love running ahead with them or staying behind with whoever is in more of a meandering mood (usually Gray). BUT I do all of this in the winter. When it’s cold and wet and most people are snug inside. Which is funny because I hate being cold BUT I hate bugs that much more. The woods are bare in winter and I like that SO much better than walking into a spider’s web or getting eaten alive by mosquitoes or having to do a tick check.
So it was random and VERY out of character for me to be venturing WAY off the path at Saturday evening’s session. We didn’t go DEEP in the woods but deep enough that it took us a minute to figure out where the path was and get back on it. The entire time I kept telling my sweet client how weird this was for me, that I NEVER do this this time of year and WOW I can’t believe I’m in the woods right now! I’m sure I was driving her crazy talking so much about it.
When we got back to the path I happened to look down and noticed that little burrs or dirt were all over my shoes. Not a huge deal but my black Toms are my FAVORITE shoes this year. I wear them ALL THE TIME and they are my favorite shooting shoes. So I bent down to look closer when HOLY HELL THERE ARE LITTLE THINGS MOVING ALL OVER ME!
You guys. You know when something so horrible happens you don’t know how to react and what you want to do is scream for your mom to come help but then you realize that you’re standing in the middle of a forest with a client you met 30 minutes ago and you have to stay professional as much as you can without passing out right then and there? No? That hasn’t happened to you?
I WALKED THROUGH A SEED TICK NEST AND THERE WERE THOUSANDS ON ME.
Crawling on my shoes and up my legs.
THANK GOODNESS I had on a short dress with leggings b/c I STRIPPED right there in the middle of the path with my client and her mom thinking I had LOST MY MIND. I took off my shoes and pants and started this crazy dance trying to GET THEM OFF OF ME!
The entire time I was trying hard to remain calm, stay professional and laugh it off. I was also praying they were spiders and not ticks which is funny because I HATE spiders but I knew a quick squish would kill them and ticks are a whole other ballgame of bug bite.
I picked up my pants/shoes and I walked barefoot on the unpaved path back to our cars where when I sat down my shoes I realized that they were crawling all over my hands/arms! More dancing more freaking out more wanting to cry and beg someone to HELP ME!
When Parker had her seizure at home a few years ago I remember staring at her for a second not understanding what was happening. Then when I got it I remember being super calm and knowing I needed to call for help. Somewhere in me I knew I needed to call 911 but that seemed so drastic (and expensive) so who did I call? My mom. Who of course didn’t answer. Then I tried Chris and my mother-in-law who both didn’t answer either so I called 911. All that to say that in a TRUE emergency there are so many people you could call and you know that someone is going to come help you. All you have to do is stand there for a minute and wait.
For THIS emergency (and yes, I am comparing thousands of ticks on me with my incredibly sick daughter!) I had no one to call! I had to deal with it myself and I felt completely inept! AND I had to finish the session! We weren’t done yet!
So in a dress that’s too short to not wear something underneath, no shoes and feeling like I was going to scratch my skin raw because of course it felt like they were EVERYWHERE (my scalp especially!) I sucked it up, laughed it off and finished doing my job.
But once it was time to go I had my favorite shoes crawling with bugs that were NOT going in my car and I had no idea what to do.
SO I left them there. With my pants.
And now I need a new pair of Toms.
See all of those tiny dots? Those are man-eating ticks.
It’s fuzzy because I snapped quick in the middle of my freak out but when I sent this to my sister who is an outdoor educator and KNOWS about these things she confirmed that YES those are all freaking ticks.
My Toms look a little worn anyway so I guess it was time to part ways but I hate that it was because of an infestation and not because I had a sparkling new pair to replace them with!
SO if you are shooting in Missouri right now STAY ON THE PATH or prepare yourself for the possibility of this happening! Trust me, I know I’m making it sound dramatic but wouldn’t you freak out at the idea of having all of those things EMBED themselves in you (mostly in inappropriate places too?)???
The only saving grace in this story is that Emma got some great shots from deep in that forest! Her blog post is coming tomorrow!