“What attacked you?” isn’t the first thing that you hope to hear when running into an acquaintance at the Ottawa Mall. My friend, Ron, took note this week — the peak of the 2019 wild black raspberry season — when my appendages were speckled with bites, bruises and bumps. If I were to connect the dots with a Sharpie, I could sport a unique tattoo. Don’t get any ideas, My Steven. I’ll be sleeping light.

We live large around these parts. Scars tell a story all their own. My grandma once told me not to scratch mosquito bites because no one would ever want to look at my legs. Ten-year-old me told her they could mind their own business—score one for “Me, Too”. I can point to a jagged line and recall getting snagged on barbed wire, playing too rough with a sleepy dog, close encounters of the rooster kind, running trips, and scratched bites. What I can’t recall is any one method of treatment for these wounds. The same cannot be said for sprains and strains. We rely on the grocer’s frozen food section and grain aisle for those aches and pains.

Professional cold packs inevitably split, leaking blue ooze that can’t be good for anyone. Cats adore fragrant pillows filled with warming gel beads that roll enticingly from frayed seams. Last night, my child wandered around the house, her shoulders sporting a microwaved Laurel Burch designer sock filled with rice. When she was in high school, she waded into a nest of hornets. We stopped for groceries after her last class. She walked around the store with a purchased bag of frozen succotash down her pants to ease the stings. Later, she applied the mixed veg treatment to her dog’s newly-neutered nether regions. My mother’s garden is a riot of color. Bumblebees and butterflies feed from blooms and dragonflies patrol the herbs for no-see-ums. I stopped in this week to have coffee before Mom dug into the soil for the day. As she leaned forward in her chair to pour a second cup, Mom adjusted a bag of frozen peas behind her back.

The legend lives on.