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Gristmill: Tick Attack

Wed, 06/14/2023 - 17:50
The family dog, tick-riddled and tick-addled, just like one of his owners.
Penelope Greene

Turns out my natural musk is such a draw I can’t walk the 20 grassy feet from my front stoop to the driveway without having to pluck two or three bloodsucking ticks from my person mere minutes later. Two or three examples, that is, of what’s quickly becoming the dominant feature of life on the East End.

So, let me get this straight. We can devise artificial intelligence of such maleficent savvy it puts human existence itself at risk, but we can’t biologically engineer these tiny creatures off the face of the earth?

If we’re worried about the food chain consequences of their disappearance, give me a break. The newfound turkeys in my backyard, as welcome as they are, may feast, but they can’t come close to keeping up with the abundant supply of arachnids, mites, parasites.

Ever-popular spraying, I’m convinced, is pointless, particularly any watered-down organic pesticide. Why? Ever see “Dekalog,” the series of films by the great Krzysztof Kieslowski? The lives of tenants of a dreary housing complex in Poland are used to illustrate the Ten Commandments, and in one of them, a dying man in a hospital bed looks over at his bedside to observe a bee slowly, painstakingly crawl its way out of a cup of some kind of sweet liquid. In extreme close-up, at last it emerges.

Life clings!

And bites. The other day I had to pry a lone star tick from an intimate area, and while I understand the animal attraction there, it was dicey: the telltale itching, the tweezers, the reddening — the thing did not want to let go — the, uh, swelling.

Also the other day, I found myself pounding the doxycycline, such was my paranoia over the length of a tiny deer tick’s stay, gorging on my vital fluids, hidden as it was under a sock. I’m amazed I haven’t been sickened yet, at least as far as I can tell.

Because when it comes to the tainted-blood brain fog and weird infection-borne food allergies that I fear, the incapacitating joint stiffness, those symptoms are readily apparent, sad to say, in Duster, our family dog.

I guess he’s even more of a magnet than I am. He’s downright furry; I’m just hirsute. 


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