Ticks and poison ivy afflict the rigid but not the resilient

Climbing to the top of Bee Bluff is a rite of passage at Meadowcreek.  The view of Meadow Creek and Little Red River valleys and bluffs is breath-taking.  Makes you wonder how anyone could destroy such beauty with a dam.

bee bluffYou will probably be urged to make the climb soon after you get to Meadowcreek.  Some delay the experience for awhile.  All are glad when they have done it.

A few concoctions will enhance your experience of the forests of Meadowcreek in mid-summer.  The irony is that some who spurn these concoctions because they aren’t natural end up not being able to enjoy Nature at Meadowcreek as much as those who aren’t so rigid.

A few days ago we took a couple of rock climbers from Michigan to the top of Bee Bluff.  One of our leaders got into a batch of deer ticks on the way up.  They started biting and she had to rush down to wash them off in Meadow Creek.  These tiny ticks are the bane of the Ozarks woods in summer. Being afflicted with them at the highest point in Meadowcreek and having to climb all the way down to get relief can be torture.  Luckily taking a hot soapy shower right after a hike always gets rid of them.

Modern inventions can help you avoid the problem.  Various bug repellents, organic and synthetic will discourage them from hitching a ride on you and you will have a much more pleasant hike.

An even more modern approach is to never use any synthetic bug repellent.  Those who take this approach are much more likely to be afflicted with ticks and chiggers.  In the terminology of resilience, they are not conservatively innovative.  They have abandoned technologies which worked but had side effects, instead of just modifying the old system.  They are as rigid and lacking in resilience as those who suffer the effects of unstinting use of synthetic chemicals.

They are innovative, but not conservative.  They are similar to the many farmers who have abandoned all mechanical means of controlling weeds for chemical sprays. Pests adapt to new insecticides and invariably develop resistance.  If you solely rely on sprays for control, they will eventually fail you.  The resilient farmer maintains several methods of pest control.  Each is applied when needed.

Poison ivy provides another case.  At the Meadowcreek dorm we keep calamine lotion. If afflicted with poison ivy or chiggers, just apply this lotion or other synthetic anti-itch compounds.  You’ll quit itching and the problem will go away.

Some visitors to Meadowcreek don’t like to use anything but totally natural remedies. When confronted with a case of poison ivy, they go collect some jewelweed and apply it.  That does work, but finding jewelweed can be a problem at times.

Those who have adopted the modern all-natural approach to ticks, poison ivy and chiggers are going to have a much less pleasant visit to the Ozarks.  Those who are conservatively innovative and blend new technologies with the tried and true will enjoy themselves more.

Another problem in any humid area is mold.  Mushrooms love the humid Meadowcreek valley and so do other fungi, including the molds which get in houses.  The tried and true technique for getting rid of surface mold is diluted chlorox bleach (sodium hypochlorite).  For mold on wood or porous surfaces, use products containing ammonium hypochloride (such as Formula 409) which can penetrate into the wood.

Some people who really love Meadowcreek don’t want to use the chloride chemicals to get rid of mold.  They are continually fighting mold and never really get rid of it.  Mold is tough stuff.  Judicial use of modern chemicals can get rid of mold and make life so much more pleasant.

Mold is actually wonderful.  Can you imagine if molds and fungi didn’t infest and degrade wood?  All the nutrients in the wood would be locked up and not available for other species to use.  Eventually the woods would be all dead trees with no nutrients for new growth.

We humans want the wood in our houses to not degrade or be invested with fungi.  Today we have innovations which enable us to make Nature more palatable to us. Research in chemistry has given us many products which get rid of mold, chiggers and ticks.  Unfortunately, reaction to excessive chemical use has led some to abandon all chemical use.

Resilient systems and conservatively innovative.  Innovations which work in nature fit in with the existing systems.  The don’t kill the goose which lays the golden egg. They don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

In the dance of life, species are continually adapting to each other.  A plant develops natural resistance to infection by a bacteria.  The bacteria then finds a way around this defense.  The plant then adapts with another innovation to avoid disease.

Man has taken this one exponential step further, especially with our chemical research.  We have to be careful that we don’t destroy the underlying system.  Some cities spray so much to control mosquitos that they kill the dragonflies which feed on mosquitos.  Then, late in the season they still have huge problems while areas which didn’t spray are pretty well controlled by the natural mosquito predators.

Resilient systems test innovations and discard the ones which don’t work or are harmful.  Resilient systems embrace innovations that work.  So we don’t mind a few chemicals to deal with ticks and chiggers and mold at Meadowcreek.

Those who rigidly adhere to any doctrine will eventually fall.  We strive for resilience, not rigidity.


For more on how conservative innovation and flexibility in ecological resilience, download chapter three of our free book at this link.

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