Monday, May 18, 2009


This morning after my shower I pulled the first tick off my back. I mean, I had to pull. I could tell it wasn't in deep, or engorged, but it had taken hold. Yesterday I found four ticks on myself: one jumped from my shirt as I changed shoes, coming inside, another was inside my bra strap, and a third was on my leg.

I had a full introduction to ticks last year, but this is the first time I've pulled one off of me that had taken hold. Steve says back in "the day" he and the girls would come in from being outside all day and the girls would strip down and everyone would get checked for ticks. There were always ticks.

I was in New Rochelle, New York, from 1988-1990, which was basically the onset of Lyme Disease along the East Coast. When I arrived, I would walk nearly every day in the forest preserve by the house where I rented a room, in a nice middle-class neighborhood. The woods were full of people walking, collecting berries, kids playing paintball, climbing on rocks, racing around on their bikes (two of the three of these activities, I'm thinking, were not allowed in the forest preserve). But the following year, I remember it being empty. It was always empty. And one day I went to pick strawberries, bent down with my plastic Cool-Whip container, and saw a swarm of small black bugs. I doubt they were ticks-- they were certainly too big to be deer ticks-- but by then the mere thought of it struck fear into my heart. I left the forest preserve and couldn't bring myself to go back in again. The point is, I didn't know what a tick looked like. I'd never "had" a tick. When I lived in Georgia, I'd heard stories-- camping in Tennessee and waking up covered in ticks, which I put on par with the leeches in African Queen. I have no problem with spiders, or flies, though I don't like any bug that bites and am rather crazy about mosquitoes when camping (wearing a bug net over my hat keeps me from freaking out).

Midwesterners never got the Lyme Disease fear like it hit the East Coast. I think people in the greater metropolitan area of New York City were not so keen on nature to begin with, so it didn't take much to drive them back inside. As far as I can tell, it didn't make it to the West Coast, where bugs of all kinds are scarce.

Yesterday and this morning, I took all the offending wood ticks between pinched fingers to the kitchen, where we keep the "tick jar." It's on the top shelf of the large oak cabinet, and it's a salsa jar with about an inch of rubbing alcohol in it. That's the only way to kill a tick.

Ticks don't move fast once you've dislodged them. If you put them on the counter upside-down, it's fun to watch how they manage to flip themselves over. Since I know they're not diseased, I'm not that worried about them. I just simply can't be if I'm going to live out here!

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