Yes, it’s that time again. Winter is finally over, Ice Season is melting into slushy, gritty memories, and we’re moving into that other half of the year: Tick season.
Here in the Ozarks, tick season runs from about the first week in April through the end of December, with occasional outbreaks in January, February, and March. By mid-May roving hordes of the little monsters will be moving through the underbrush like piranhas with legs, armored specks of concentrated evil seeking whom they may devour.
We’re all becoming pretty current on the latest tick-borne diseases in humans, and the toll on pets is equally terrifying. Repellants, foggers and sprays fill the air like morning mist; gatherings of the beautiful people are aromatic with eau de permethrin, and the rest of us bathe in Deet as if were Chanel No. 5.
In the year 2000, the first full reporting year after West Nile Virus in the US was first identified, two people in the New York City area (total population just over 8 million) died from illnesses associated with the disease. News outlets went a little crazy: dead blue jays became more popular as establishing video on the nightly news than the Empire State Building or Rudy Giuliani or even the standard crowd-of-people-hurrying-down-the-sidewalk video that had been the staple of news stories about NYC since the invention of television.
Last night I dreamt that my family was being studied by a world-famous psychiatrist (the doctor’s first name was Hannah, but that’s all I remember of her identity) and dozens of my relatives had been gathered together for the purpose, almost none of whom I recognized. Even my father — who died some years ago — showed up in a cheap brown suit and took a stroll through the crowd and then wandered back out the way he came, without saying a word to anyone.
I like to consider myself tolerant of other living things, even those I find a bit unpleasant, like houseflies and pomeranians, but there are limits to my generosity. Ticks fall somewhere on the far side of those limits.
Ticks are arachnids, related to mites (and very distantly to my friends, the spiders). There are actually three distinct families of ticks, but only one, the “hard ticks” or Ixodidae (from a Greek word meaning “sticky”), feed on humans and their animals.
One hundred fifteen years ago today, in what is now the Ukraine, Dr Wilhelm Reich was born.
Dr Reich has interested me for many years, and I’ve considered him before as a topic for this blog, but I’ve always felt that he was just too large and complex a subject to squeeze into a few hundred words. You who are reading this, be aware that I’m barely scratching the surface of a vast and difficult story: Dr Reich may or may not have been a bit of a loon, but if he was crazy, it was a great and wonderful craziness.
I was awakened this morning bright and early by a phone call, which is never a good thing.
The cheery female voice that greeted my less-than-gracious hello-noise was that of a computerized telemarketing system which proceeded to remind me that I did not yet have a plan in place for disposing of my sad remains should I drop dead at any moment, my “final major expense”, as she/it put it.