Healthy respect

There’s not a lot that scares me.

That’s not said with any sense of bravado; rather, I think it’s kind of a waste of time to fret about bogeymen or bugaboos when I could be wringing my hands over how much gas will cost next week. Why waste energy on fear when you can worry? There are a few things that do get to me, though, and while some of these odd fears may be a bit irrational, others are based on experience or cold, hard evidence.

Pickles frighten the daylights out of me. Can’t explain that one. Multi-legged, crawly critters? You bet. While I have to confess to a fascination with the captive octopus who oozed out of his tank each night to turn out the lights – thereby succeeding in slowly driving the aquarium crew insane – I believe with all my heart that there’s something inherently sinister about a creature with eight legs. Anything more than six is evil, pure and simple.

Spiders? Lifelong, paralyzing fear. Although I’ve developed a begrudging appreciation for the fact that they devour insect pests, I’ll not forgive them for being arachnids. A friend in college experienced the bite of a brown recluse – while putting on a garden glove, I might add – and nearly lost his life. He also had a bad motorcycle accident, but it was the spider’s venom that gave me nightmares for months. And he was the one who was bitten.

We might think that it’s easy to avoid spider bites, but it’s not necessarily the large, lumbering, easily spotted spiders that pack the most wallop. A brown recluse, commonly found among wood piles and in brush, is only about the size of a quarter, including those spindly legs. A black widow is about an inch-and-a-half long, which is slightly bigger than a small paper clip. I’d add a few more examples, but you get the point and I’ll be awake all night as it is.

Ticks? Another pillar in the Axis of Evil. A close acquaintance who spent his weekends rock and mountain climbing contracted a wicked case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. By the time he recognized the symptoms, he was so sick he nearly forgave me for my gift of a flea and tick collar. He lost almost two months of productive time at work, and continued to suffer from lingering aches, pains and nagging memory loss for more than a year following his encounter. Had antibiotics been administered early, he might have avoided such a serious blow to his health, but his initial symptoms were so subtle it was hard to put two-and-two together. And although he was aware of what could happen, it was easy to dismiss one tiny tick.

It didn’t stop him from climbing. The next time he went out I asked if he was afraid of the ticks, and he said, gravely, “No, but I respect them.”

Nursery personnel work with machines and chemicals and all sorts of things that have the potential to cause harm. Good safety programs teach them not to fear these things, but to develop a healthy respect. Natural threats, such as insects, scorpions or snakes, or even overexposure to the sun, should be respected, too.

Not feared – but understood, and respected.

What’s that on the cover?

The black and white, quilt-like box you see is a QR code, and from now on you’ll see more of these throughout American Nurseryman. If you have a smartphone with a QR reader app (you can download one for free), you can “read” these codes anywhere you find them. Just scan the code on this page, and you’ll access American Nurseryman’s Web site. Scan the code on the cover, and you’ll hear an explanation of QR codes. We’ll be incorporating QR codes for your convenience in linking directly to Web resources – as well as to advertisers’ information. Nifty, eh?

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