From time to time, I write about my affinity for the outdoors. But sometimes, that’s a love-hate relationship.


With this past weekend far too beautiful to spend inside, I headed to the park on Saturday with my long-time girlfriend and my dog. We strung up a hammock between some shady oak trees, threw the Frisbee and I’m not afraid to admit that I even spent a good deal of time rolling around in the grass with my pup.


Not far away, some other folks were making use of the park by hosting a wedding and it honestly couldn’t have been a better day to do so. The grass was green, the sun was out and the breeze was steady and cool. The ceremony was attended by well-dressed friends and family who sat in bright white chairs and the bride and groom stood centrally against a backdrop of tall trees. All the while, a string quartet played classic wedding tunes. It was beautiful and Mother Nature was clearly smiling down on the happy couple.


My girlfriend and I aren’t quite ready to tie the knot just yet, but we know our relationship is headed in that direction. We’ve talked about having our future wedding at an outdoor venue and seeing another couple do it so well only reaffirmed our plans. Call it “wedding fever” or whatever you want, but it was hard for us not to feel a little more in love with each other and with the outdoors that day.


But Mother Nature apparently had other plans for me.


As my girlfriend and I played Frisbee, I managed to put my bare feet within range of a few fire ants who decided to have a bite, on me. The pain was fairly minimal and dissipated within a few minutes. All in all, no big deal. The breeze also fooled me into thinking — unwisely on my part — that I wouldn’t get sunburned. But sure enough, I picked up a little more color than I had bargained for.


The worst of it came hours later when my legs began to itch like crazy and a roll of the pant legs revealed dozens of “chigger” bites. Nature left me with a nasty little souvenir that I’m sure to have for at least another week, if not two.


In the end, I still love the outdoors, but sometimes, that love hurts.



Happy birthday to Cliff Jonse, Barbara McDonald and Wanda McNully, all of Sherman; Rayford L. Smith of Avenel, New Jersey