Ticked off, but hopefully it was just an anomaly

As a result of my chosen occupation, l tend to spend a fair share of time outside — hiking, paddling, fishing or simply enjoying the outdoors.

Despite the many natural and man-made threats that outdoor travels may present — everything from foul weather, foul mouths and unruly kids to bees, bears, black flies and more — I have managed to remain upright and relatively sound of both heart and soul after spending a long career in the outdoors.

l will admit that there have been a few occasions when the weather was lousy, the guests were rude and the natural pests were unrelenting. While I may have questioned my own sanity at such times, I have never questioned my choice of profession. It has suited me well, especially at this time of year.

In less time than it takes me to type this sentence, it appears spring has sprung. The usual rainy weather is back, and so are the bugs. The trails are wet and muggy, while the streams and rivers remain quite manageable for paddlers and anglers alike.

In the spring woods, wild flowers such as Showy Lady Slippers, Painted Trillium and Jack in the Pulpit have added some color to the gloomy forest floor.

On the mountainsides, the annual long white veils of snowmelt have again created incredible waterfalls that captivate our senses as they clear the air.

At such times, the woods and waters exhibit extraordinary curative properties, which remain relatively untapped by the majority of local travelers.

Over the past few days, I have traveled the local woods and waters extensively, primarily seeking opportunities for brook trout on the ponds.

While the brookies were decidedly not interested in anything I sent their way on the ponds, they proved ravenous on the streams. In fact, I watched as two young anglers landed a fine mess of brookies from a small stream just a stone’s throw from my house.

Watching the boys fish, I was reminded of the old adage: “lf you fish with your kids, you’ll never have to fish for them!”

In the course of my regular travels, l also had the misfortune to travel on a canoe carry that took me through a tight section of hardwood saplings in the Lake Clear area.

I was hauling the boat on wheelies and was forced to go through some thick patches of trees that had been bowed over from the winter snows.

After crashing through the mess, we stopped to regroup and rest a minute. As I slugged on my water bottle, I noticed what appeared to be pepper sprinkled on the back of my hand. l attempted to brush it off, but l couldn’t because it was a nest of ticks.

By the time I yanked off my shirt, there were already a number of the damn ticks on my neck and shoulders. And I must admit, they were not easy to remove.

In all my years tromping the local woods, I have never had a problem with ticks. I don’t know if it was a freak incident or a sign of more to come, but l will certainly pay more attention to the possibility of ticks in the future.

I also discovered that they are very difficult to remove. I would be interested to learn if the experience was an anomaly or if it was a warning of what is yet to come.

I did not have any ticks on my legs, but they were all over my head, back and torso. I was also surprised at how quickly they got attached to me.

On future outings, l will be more careful to avoid providing any openings for ticks to attach. All of a sudden black flies, horseflies and deer flies don’t seem so bad.


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