Tick talk

These days, I don’t spend enough time outdoors but when I do, I always enjoy it. There is a lot to see, to take note of. I spy interesting things like Indian pipe, or a particularly colorful mushroom, or a bird I can’t identify. These are small moments of joy.

However, if there is a creature besides the mosquito that I really wish had never come into existence, it is the tick. They are everywhere; I can’t even walk in my own yard without the possibility of having a tick latch onto me somehow.

Throughout my growing up years, I spent a lot more time outdoors. We knew of ticks back then, of course, but there was not a single time — not one — in all those years and spending time outdoors in almost all 50 states and most of Canada, when I ever had a tick on me. I took no special precautions and went through all kinds of spaces where ticks love to be. I wonder why they are so prevalent today. Others have suggested to me that it is because of an increase in deer population; I don’t know.

But I do know that they give me the heebie jeebies.

Some years ago in northern Wisconsin, when our kids were still fairly little, I stopped in order to take photos of beautiful wildflowers growing alongside the road. I had to walk a little way away behind the van to get the kind of photo I hoped for, and concentrated on taking as many photos as possible. After several minutes, I walked back to our van.

I was startled to see that everyone was waving wildly at me and I could hear them trying to call me as I came up to the van. When I sat back in the van, they all told me I’d just missed seeing a black bear amble across the road in front of us while I was so busy focusing on wildflowers!

What does this have to do with ticks? Well, when I started driving down the road again, I felt something crawling on my neck, and felt around to discover to my horror that it was a tick. Boy, it was a miracle I did not drive right off the road and crash there and then. It took some agitated moments before my wife figured out what to do with it.

All senses alert now, I felt sure that ticks were crawling all over me. And yes, there was one more yet to be found, crawling up my leg. Once again, angels must have been watching out for us to prevent a wreck. That one, also, was eventually disposed of safely but only after losing it for a few minutes. (A tick loose in a car packed with people!) Whew.

They seem to particularly like the hair on my head. That’s a big part of why I now choose to wear a hat whenever I possibly can outdoors during times of the year when they are active. Fortunately, so far I have avoided having a tick firmly buried into me because once they get to that stage, you have problems, and there is always the worry about Lyme disease. Ugh.

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