Tuesday, April 28, 2015


In Byron Kerns Survival School, Granddaughter Zoe (age 11) and I (age creaky) learned a thing or two about surviving: collecting water, making fire, constructing shelter and, of course, learning the meaning of STOP.

STOP:  Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan. It’s what you do when you’ve lost your mind in the wilderness or . . . Walmart.

We collected. We made. We constructed. We learned. That was the first day. Then we collapsed in our tent to sleep, surrounded by a cloud of fireflies, the rustling of Mother Nature, and the soft cloak of night.  Zoe needed both pillows. I flip-flopped on my brand new self-inflating air mattress. We said a little pray that should rain fall, it fall straight and gentle.

Click. We turned off our headlamps.

Instantly, I felt the scurry of tiny legs up my arm. Panic threatened to suck the oxygen out of my lungs, and I felt an overwhelming urge to run screaming into the underbrush—in my scanties. But I’m a trained junior survivalist. I knew what to do. I needed to STOP.

I needed to SIT, but I was already lying down, so I had to adapt. I bolted to an upright position.

“Zoe, Zoe, get a flashlight. I THINK there’s a tick on my arm.”

I was way ahead of my training; I was already THINKing.

Zoe flipped on the flashlight. It was time to OBSERVE.

“Shoot! I can’t see a thing. Help me find my glasses.”  The black blot on my arm appeared to jiggle in the wavering light of the flashlight. My heart trip hammered.

Zoe, as steady a trail buddy as anyone can ask for, handed me the glasses, steadied the flashlight, and joined me in OBSERVING.

“Yep. That’s a tick,” she said.

“Okay, here’s the PLAN,” I sputtered. “I’m going to kill this sucker with a knife.”

She handed me her pocketknife.

It wasn’t the best plan, but it was sincere.

I continued to feel creepy-crawly for the rest of our survival course, on the ride home, and later at my in-law’s sixtieth anniversary party. I had lobster ravioli. At the end of dinner I whispered to my husband that I really needed to get home; I was pretty tired and still a little creepy-crawly.

 Sherwood, ever the engineer, cut straight to the heart of the matter and announced, “Well, we need to get going. I need to check Linda for ticks.”

Smiling, I added, “He’ll probably need to use a headlamp.”

And that’s why we’ll be married for sixty years. Who else would have us?

Linda (Ticked Off) Zern


1 comment:

LINDA L. ZERN said...

Testing. Testing. Testing.

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