Saturday, May 29, 2010

the zen of ticks

It's tick season. I am told they go away, but right now they are creepy-crawling on the bushes, stalking through the grass, flinging themselves at us as we push our way down the overgrown trail. Yesterday we were scouting the North Fork of the Imnaha and had to go around a lot of fallen trees (we cut out as many as we could, but big winds and an old burn bring them down in droves). Connelly bashed through the manzanita exclaiming, "I'm in the tick zone!" And he was: we picked a dozen or more off ourselves.

It's hard to like ticks. They are secretive creatures, hitching a ride without warning, then found hours later casually strolling up an arm. Earlier this season John was bit by one; weeks later he came down with Colorado tick fever. They're not as straightforward as mosquitoes or as blatant as snakes. They're like kamikazes; suicide bombers, leaping off from the safety of the forest for the unknown.

The only other creature I have encountered in the outdoors that compares to ticks are the dreaded chiggers. For months in Florida I went around smelling like laundry because I had been told that bleach repels them. Until you have been nailed by these lovely things, you have not known true insanity. Think poison ivy on steroids.

Well, as a fellow traveler once said in a remote mountain hut in New Zealand, with the rain pouring down and the Germans stealing the best bunks, "Complain, complain, complain! What did you think this was going to be, paradise?"

It's paradise really, just with a few speed bumps and blemishes to make you appreciate the indoors once in a while. I can be patient. I can do tick checks. I can wait them out. Namaste.


  1. Grew up with chiggers in Tennessee--nasty! But I also remember an attack of sand ants in Florida--double nasty. And you may recall "the itch" from snails in Indian Lake?? Critters tolerate us but they rule.

  2. Thanks for the calming thoughts...we will work on the zen of we come back from Woodhenge and find them hours later...on us. Last year, one went through the wash on a shirt and seemed just fine as it crawled out.

  3. No ticks on Mackinac Island. I think they look like aliens, vampire aliens.


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