We took a break on Sunday to visit the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge at Trempealeau (Wis.). It was a gorgeous day, and the river was just teeming with life. The older kids identified several kinds of ducks using the free spotting scopes on the observation deck, and then we walked a trail through some of the marshy backwaters. The kids saw all sorts of signs of spring: little flowers in the grass, perhaps a dozen turtles sunning themselves on logs in clumps of three or four, and dozens of different bird calls -- some of them I'd never heard before.
But by far the most dramatic "close encounter" with nature occurred a few hours later when we heard M scraming bloody murder up in the bathroom. When I got there, she was screaming, "There's a spider on me! Get it off! Get it off!" And indeed, there was something black and hairy on her leg. I took a swipe at it, and it kind of came off with a bloody smear. I picked it up ion a tissue (it was still alive) and took it downstairs to consult with S. We decided it was definitely a tick. Meanwhile, M is still screaming her head off upstairs, so I headed up there to calm her down and apply some disinfectant. Nothing doing. She was hyperventilating and shaking, too. She was far too upset for me to handle (I get "sucked in" sympathetically), so I brought S in. She shooed everyone out, explained about ticks to her, gave her a bath, and prayed over her. It took her a good half hour to calm down.
I'm guessing she's not going to be the outdoorsy type, huh?