Having grown up playing in the woods that bordered our country house, I never worried about the woods, its insects or animals and was lucky not to be allergic to poison ivy.
I loved the woods, places of freedom where we could do what we wished away from our parents who knew we’d be back before dark and certainly before dinner. Who wanted to be in the woods at night? Or go without dinner?
Teaching in upstate New York near the Adirondacks where we hiked often and later moving to a house in the country, alive with deer that in the evening and early morning came to snack on the shrubs around our house, we never worried about what the deer might be carrying. Deer ate apples drops from our apple trees, used our back yard for shelter beneath our towering white pines and Norwegian spruce trees in winter appearing like cows bedded down beneath the trees’ boughs.
Deer were all around us, seemingly tame. Lyme disease hadn’t reached that far north yet.
Now we stay out of the woods. Too many of our friends and neighbors, my sister and brother in law, kids in the school we worked in, all had or have Lyme disease. Now these same ticks can carry the potentially fatal, Powassan, that can cause fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures and memory loss. There is no known cure for Powassan.
Sure you can spray stuff on you, tuck your pants into your shoes or boots, and check for ticks afterward, but they’re tiny. What if you miss one? Why take a chance?
We have seen the consequences of Lyme disease first hand, how it can affect hearts and joints and cause lifetime problems. And now some of these ticks also carry Powassan. I am thankful we had our years in the fields and woods. Now we stay clear of the woods with their deer ticks and walk our sandy beach and the Marginal Way. When we do walk in the woods, we use wide paths such as the ones in the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Wells. You probably have similar wide paths you can walk on safely.