Batten down the hatches

We have some T A L L trees in our backyard.  They’re pine trees, and they must be five stories tall, or, they were before the unadept treetrimmers came by, but that’s a story for another day. 

The trees host a shitload of crows.  They make me really agitated because they squack all day.  They freak out the squirrels, who also live up there, and that’s okay since I don’t think highly of squirrels, but the noise is ferocious.  They chatter and screech at each other.  We’ve also got woodpeckers, robins, swallows (? who makes nests out of mud that look like beehives and fly really really fast?  that’s what we have), hummingbirds, mourning doves, and a few I’m forgetting.  One time, the crows woke me up at 5 am, because they were FreakingOut.  There was a big raccoon climbing up the tree and they were pissed.

Okay.  So last week the kids said there was a dead skunk in the road.  I knew they were wrong; I’d have smelled it.  I saw it when I was driving the next day: a dead crow in the road. 

Hmmm. Not normal.

Then I got a call from a friend who lives nearby.  Seems that we’ve got West Nile Virus in the area.  Sure enough, most times I’m driving through the neighborhood, I’ll see a dead bird.  It gives me a creepy, prelude-to-the-apocalypse kind of vibe.  Our backyard pool is chlorinated, and the bullfrogs will eat any mosquito larvae in their tank (which is outside, but you can’t hear the bullfrogs over the crows and squirrels).  I made sure there wasn’t any other standing water, and then didn’t worry about it.  I haven’t seen any mosquitos around lately. 

But, the friend who called is a little more concerned than I am (or, uh, was).  Her son is over here every day, and my boys are at her place often.  I’m not sure exactly how it went down, but Lex is pretty worried.  It’s been hot here during the day (sorta, a little bit) and we don’t have AC.  We use Nature’s Own Free Service — obtained by opening the windows and doors every evening. 

Except Lex now insists on closing the house up, to keep the mosquitos out.  He thinks they are actively hunting him and that any bite will make him ill. 

So, Willow has been a crabass with a vengeance today.  Not her usual mild-mannered self.  She told me yesterday that she had a "rash" on her back, and when I looked I saw those "viral bumps" that I thought were barbie sized chicken pox the first time I saw them on Lex when he was tiny.  But, among the viral bumps (that just reminded me of a Beatrix Potter Medical Book: amongst the viral bumps. . . uh, sorry) was a lone


I didn’t worry about until tonight, when I figured that her crankitude must be coming from some sort of disturbance in the force.  I was driving to yoga when I decided that she must have been infected and called the house to demand temperature taking and constant monitoring. 

I think that she’s fine.  She certainly isn’t feverish, but MAN was she crabby and whiny, even with a bowl of chocolate ice cream in front of her. 

I’m not going to keep the windows closed, but once again I find myself unable to successfully navigate the middle road: concerned and careful, but not freaking out and making things worse than need be.  I’m on the fence about how much concern to give this.  Where are my instincts about what’s necessary?  What would Ma Ingalls do?

5 thoughts on “Batten down the hatches

  1. chris

    Oh I know how you feel. Here is it Lyme disease. And my former self would be horrified at the DEET I spray on my children, and myself, everyday.

    So I don’t know. I am not sure if I have crossed over that crazy lady line. Though since I don’t lock us all in the house or make them travel to the car in a protective bubble, I guess I am okay.

    WWMID? Wear a bonnet and carry eggs in a tin bucket? I dunno.

  2. Diane

    Ma Ingalls wouldn’t have this stuff to deal with! Of course, there was small pox… I’ve been worried about West Nile Virus too. My son had a bird take a dump on his legs a few weeks ago, which he promptly ate. I called the Center for Disease Control. There’s a nutty mommy moment. They said he couldn’t get West Nile from bird doo, but I was scared nonetheless. So much to worry about these days!

  3. Mama Bear

    Aaah, West Nile. It’s where I live too. Here the mosquitoes are so bad that the city has a special “task force” for them. There are pickups that come around with special sprayers on them in the evenings to fog the streets. When we go out in our backyard it’s almost inevitable that we will come inside with a mosquito bite. We do all the right things: bug spray, spray the yard, no standing water, etc. We have even purchased a Mosquito Magnet to help control them. Try not to worry so much. If I worried about each bite that we have here, I’d have to be put in an institution. Just do what you can to minimize their exposure, and then try hard not to worry so much.

  4. Becky

    Ma Ingalls had way less information about a lot of this crap. The upside is, her worries were about bigger things, like getting eaten by a bear. The downside? She was probably aware of the higher mortality rate for her kids, and KNEW that several of them likely wouldn’t make it to adulthood.

    Do what you can, reasonably, and then pretend you have no idea what they’re talking about 🙂

  5. mamasutra

    I had a little freak out after taking my kids to the local water play area, because my bigger girl had a rash on the top of her chest and I was sure she had caught something from the water. Yuk. I made myself wait until morning to check it again and it was gone. This is coming from me, who, at the age of 5, would drag home dead seagulls because they needed a proper burial in our garden, like our pets. I throw up a little in my mouth when I think of that; can’t imagine what my mom thought of it!


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