Since my last post on Dallas and Hell, the Lone Star has mercifully backed off a bit. Although the humidity is hovering around a hundred and twenty percent, the rains have cooled Old Hell down tolerably. But as I am learning, when Texas gives, Texas also takes.
Off and on today I have been out trimming small mesquites. Hopefully all of your encounters with this almost shadeless "tree" came out of a barbecue bottle and not up close and personal. The mesquite is truly one nasty customer; more like a big rack of thorns with a few tiny leaves placed here and there by God to dress it up a little. The enormous white stabbing things, needle sharp, seemingly cover every inch of the mesquite and if one is not careful (and even if one is) the result is worse than being jabbed by an ice pick. The mesquite grows in Texas like crab grass grows elsewhere--all over, and fast. There is a town just north of here called Mesquite. The people who formed this town must have run out of heroes or ideas for why anyone would name a place after a horrible tree like the mesquite in beyond me.
But as I learned today, the mesquite's daggers are only its first line of defense. In roughly every other tree that I sawed into I found a colony of vicious fire ants. Fire ants are surely the devils of the insect world; their sting is like that of a small bee and they are aggressive beyond belief. They are remorseless. They will hunt you down in record time. The angry brutes today attacked my feet in seconds and even as I was slaughtering them right and left like Samson of old other fiends were racing up my clothes to attack other unnamed parts. After a few such encounters (and some swelling feet) I changed my tactics. In quickly, out quickly was my new motto. For the most part it worked. But even as I would periodically come into the ranchero for something to drink, ten minutes later I would discover one or two of the ugly things crawling on my clothes still looking for a patch of bare skin to sting.
Quite a place this Texas. Quite a place.
Fish-Eye Foto of the Day