In coastal communities, they live The Salt Life. Pick-up trucks drive around with bumper stickers proclaiming their allegiance to the ocean. But in rural Vermont and thousands of towns across the country, we live The Tick Life.
The Tick Life is 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 chocolate sprinkles is ruined with one “sprinkle” which actually moves. (BLECH.) Sometimes I think there are more ticks in the woods of New England than there are grains of sand.
When it comes to bugs, I have my preferences. I’ll gently encourage a spider to crawl on a PEOPLE magazine cover and escort him outside. I’ll let the ant live in the corner of the bathroom. And I have no issue with a buzzing bumblebee. But I have no compassion for ticks. If given the opportunity, I’ll flush them down the toilet and then flush again, just to get my point across.
Luckily, I haven’t had a bite yet, but perhaps it’s because I’m obsessed with checking myself. 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.) In my household, we compulsively shower and check each other’s scalps, armpits and ankles. We wear light colored clothing on hikes, and cover our long hair with baseball caps and scarfs. We flick dirt off each others’ arms just to quadruple check that freckles are just freckles.
Someday, I hope to live the Maple Life or the Morel Life or the Mountain Life. Someday, I hope that the life I live will be glamorous enough to flaunt on a truck bumper. But for now, I’m stuck with ticks. I’m stuck checking and rechecking. I’m stuck flushing and re-flushing. And I’m stuck with the rainbow sprinkles, for fear of the walking chocolate ones.