In coastal communities, they live The Salt Life. Pick-up trucks drive around with bumper stickers proclaiming their allegiance to the ocean.
Me? I live The Tick Life. But It’s not one I’ve chosen. It’s a life which has chosen me. My dog is covered in ticks. My lawn is covered in ticks. My friends are covered in ticks. My rocky-road ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles is covered in one black “sprinkle” which actually moves. (BLECH.) Sometimes I think there are more ticks in the woods than there are grains of sand.
And I have no compassion. As far as I’m concerned ticks are the most no-good, terrible, horrible, worst creatures on earth. (They even make mosquitos look like good company in comparison.) I use organic oils to kill them. I use non-organic chemicals. I use lavender and white socks and long leggings and snake oil and anything else that promises to keep these pests away. But no matter what, they creep in. (My poor Labrador had fifteen ticks in her armpits last week.)
Luckily, I haven’t had a bite yet, but perhaps it’s because I’m obsessed with checking myself. And I’m also obsessed with checking others. Brad Paisley might think “I Want To Check You For Ticks” is a romantic ballad, but if I’m looking at that dark mole on your neck for a second too long, it’s only because I’m making sure it doesn’t have legs. We compulsively shower and check each other’s scalps. We wear light colored clothing on hikes, and cover our long hair with baseball caps and scarfs. We flick dirt off each others’ ankles just to quadruple check that freckles are just freckles.
Who would have guessed that the scariest thing in the woods of New England is 1/10,000 the size of a black bear? Well, friends, it is. And it keeps me up at night. In future I hope the ticks will be gone, and we New Englanders can proudly say that we live the Maple Life or the Morel Life or the Mountain Life.
But for now, I think we’re all stuck with a life that consumes us. Especially when I feel something crawling on my leg under the sheets…