Despite a less than mainstream life and location I’m not keen on themes of “good ol’ days.” The best that can often be said of the past is it is familiar. Unlike the uncertain future, the past is something we know, but knowing the past or knowing “of” it quite often does not mean accurate recollection or info. As example, I listened to someone denounce an entire group (happened to be a gender opposite to the speaker’s) for their selfish domination. I wondered if the speaker thought it was strictly from their group that universal public education, child labor laws, and other social reforms grew. There’s a difference between simplifying histories to make a point and doing the same insisting the simplified result is accurate and whole historical fact, which of course it can be if one is generous enough about the definition of truth.  

But as summer slow starts I’m less inclined to mull a theoretical point than grab onto a “good ‘ol” time many will remember and nearly everyone would like to welcome back. I had many a pleasant time in years gone by, not limited to a particularly nice fish or standing by a warming fire after a midnight dip. I’m thinking in bigger broader terms to the time when a person could wander most of the Iron Range or North Shore and never encounter a single tick. Now who wouldn’t want that back? But be sure, it’s not that simple. We wouldn’t welcome back the slower speed winding narrow roads that were replaced by highways of wide margin with grassy corridors serving as a ribbon of ecosystem allowing a variety of critters easy access into the boreal. Aided by this route the gray squirrel has made its way north into red squirrel territory. I’d imagine a few ticks took the ride with them. If not any number of dogs let out of cars for a run brought a tick from Anoka County to the County of Cook.  

This simplified scenario hasn’t mentioned deer that were not boreal bound until the old forests were gone to mills and a lot of new growth deer chow stood waiting to be munched into pellets we call browse berries. They are not suitable for pies. We wanted the timber for new houses and furniture. We want the better, safer roads for personal travel and commercial purposes. We seek and desire the tourists to come like Magi bringing cash instead of incense. (What can be bought with perfumed smoke?) We were eager to have those things, though frankly the Magi often hang around far too long and are far less perfumed than we’d like. Those things were and are called progress. With progress came the ticks. And OH for the day when a walk in the woods didn’t end in a tick search and follow-up monitoring for telltale rashes. Progress has value but it also has a price.  

For the less fortunate who don’t live in the modern boreal tick world there is another form of wood tick to observe and take into account. This kind is two-legged and like the multi leg kin lurks on the fringes where it finds its purpose and food. The human wood tick is prone to much and sincere complaint about the scarcity of its rightful meals. The sapient tick looks with considerable disdain on those whose blood it sucks and will often be heard informing them in clear and demanding terms how much more and better they could be doing. The tall two-leg tick is a skilled bloodsucker with no scruples about its draining nor any shyness about its requirement for more and more plus more and better. The blood should be the right temperature and certified organic and blessed by hallowed ritual that was revealed in an earlier demand. An experienced wood tick can tell you things no one else knows. That’s quite special, of course, and requires lots and lots of your time; a most effective prolongation of the feeding cycle. You’ll go away drained of energy and wishing for something sensible like banging your head on a large balsam to get plenty of its stickiest sap in your hair. After a two legged wood tick bout, yes, that would be an improvement and you’ll feel delightfully light and free to be out of the sound and gravity pull of the life sucker.  

On the urban side the human equivalent of the rural wood tick is probably something from the roach family. The feeding habits are likely similar, but the urban version probably feeds more at meetings where it waves its antennae for sympathy while seeking further prey. Whenever there is promise of coffee and a roll at a community meeting the roaches will appear, as do wood ticks as both are known to cross feed with easy facility. They are survivors. Not all things with survival capacity are ambitious, you know. Mollusks are a fair example. Little energy goes into their meal search. Like ticks and roaches they concentrate toxins with a result similar to the effect those creatures have on social climates.  

For you it may not be a political season, but it is here as we have to fill a Commissioner post with a special election. I used to look for candidates who’d do something. Now I tend to think it’s better if they don’t so we should seek out particularly unqualified and incapable people as those most likely to do the least. Well, we can hope so. I’ve come to think so because the basic house of government gets oversized and unwieldly with growth. How many additions could you make to your house before it got totally out of hand? Get the idea? The more we “grow” things the more unwieldly they become. And then there’s this. With expansion of the house we create ever larger and broader margins where the ticks and roaches can lurk and thrive. I’d keep that in mind on any vote.