In spite of ticks: to the woods






We grow up to care for and protect only what we love.

So today the kids and I are heading into the woods.

It's been a while. Every spring I chicken out a bit, then muster my courage to get back out there. Because: ticks.

Today we'll pull garlic mustard to protect our fragile forest and transplant ramps beneath the trees. We'll forage morels and oyster mushrooms (if we can find them), watercress, and nettle. We'll have a campfire.

We will explore, learn, and play.

In the woods. Where the ticks live.

Some of you know our backstory with Lyme disease, Lupine with her first bulls-eye rash at age 3, then 5, then 8. Me, sicker than I've ever been a couple of summers back. Pete, last summer. On and on it goes. We've treated Lyme disease in our house more times than I'd like to count.

More cautious people would just stay inside. It's safer there, isn't it?

Maybe yes, maybe no. Because there are other costs that come of hiding.

I wrote this post about fear and childhood in 2014. It's worthwhile read in it's own right (I share our protocol for keeping ticks off, which has worked well since I share this). But even more so is my mom's response, which I have copied below. She sent me a letter the day I posted the link above. I vacillate between laughing and crying every time I read it.

I hope it's just the nudge you need to tie on your boots and get into the woods today.


Dear Rachel:

I am sorry you are going through stress wondering if you are doing the right thing for the kids. Yes there are risks. Certainly. Life is a risk. I drive in the crazy city; I leave the doors unlocked. I eat leftovers that are questionable. Your father can attest to that… [A reference to some unfortunate leftovers resulting in my dad getting food poisoning. Twice.] I climb up on ladders to clean the ceiling fan. I face plant in the yard.

You are taking a risk with the kids but they are also at risk from the pets and the animals. Maybe Pete could fashion two large bubbles. They could roll down to the creek. Coming back up would be a bit of a challenge. Then there are the sensory plus and minuses – great for the vestibular system and perhaps proprioception when they slam into rocks.

They will of course lose all the other pluses – chattering of squirrels, spring peepers, laying in the leaves, smelling the field and woods and remembering a wonderful childhood.

I love you.
You are both wonderful parents.






3 thoughts on “In spite of ticks: to the woods

  1. Kara says:

    Oh my. Way to go, Mom. It doesn’t hurt that like you, she is a wonderful writer. But seriously, what a gift for saying the right thing when you need it most. I love this.

  2. Kristina says:

    “Then there are the sensory plus and minuses – great for the vestibular system and perhaps proprioception when they slam into rocks.”

    Hahahahaha But, really, it is so hard, when you’ve been so sick, to overcome that fear of experiencing it again. When we experience that instinctive fear reaction, it is so hard.

  3. Heather says:

    What a beautiful letter from your mom. I lost my mom when I was 14 and I love thinking of her writing me funny letters of wisdom. With love.

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