Since I’ve gotten no entries yet from the bug community, I am stepping in. This is a post about ticks, but the ticks of yesteryear, before they became famous disease vectors and back when they were just gross. My father and mother were great campers, so we were none of us strangers to the post-camping tick search.
We lived in Indiana then and we went very occasionally to the big city of Chicago to buy my mother’s shoes. She was a polio survivor and needed custom-made footwear. So this is a memory from one of those trips. Two memories, actually.
The first is that I saw a plush purple lion in a store window and wanted it desperately. I did not get it (in retrospect it was probably extremely ugly, because… purple lion) but I like to think my parents would have provided if they’d known that at the age of 63, out of all the ceaseless requests of my childhood, this is the one I’d remember.
Secondly, I found a tick in the hair near the base of my skull and freaked out. My father removed it immediately with tweezers and dropped it onto the sidewalk. It was enormous – I don’t think I’d ever had a tick go undiscovered for so long. It was a balloon of blood; you couldn’t see its appendages at all. I know that I must have been quite young, because I have a vivid visual of the busy Chicago street and my perspective appears to be about thigh-high. Dozens of legs, dozens of shoes, hurrying towards and past me and in the midst of all that city busyness, completely out of place and out of time, the very large, very bloated tick on the sidewalk.