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insect repellent

How to hike & garden: Tick-free

Ticks are incredibly resilient critters. They have lasted for millenia due to their wily survival tactics. We're not required to admire them for this, however, we should be as determined in our efforts to avoid them as they are persistent in going after their goals--namely, a warm meal and a ride.

How do you avoid ticks? In particular, how do you avoid them in tick havens such as the US NE region, and pretty much anywhere that constitutes wilderness (including the parking lot at work, if there are hedges, grasses, trees or bushes nearby).

Are you like me? Since being struck down by Lyme and making the long, slow climb back to health, I've really lost my taste for hiking and gardening, activities that were a constant of my pre-Lyme life. However, I don't want to be afraid of the outdoors, and I know you don't either, especially this time of the year when the air smells like flowers and tulips are blooming in the colors of little girls' Easter dresses.

Taking precautions on a hike can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. You may want to stop short of duct-taping yourself head to toe, as the mother does to her son in the new movie, Lymelife. Wear white or light colors so ticks can be seen easily and eliminated a.s.a.p. Use a strong repellent. Tuck your socks into your pant, and check yourself (and the kids) when you get home.

Gardening, for me, has moved indoors. Growing plants is just too fun to give up altogether. On walks through my neighborhood I admire the results of other people's green thumbs, but here at home I get great satisfaction from growing sprouts. Not only do you get quick results, you can save money on the store-bought varieties, and guarantee freshness. Broccoli and clover are the house favorites.

So here are the main points: Wear white. Tuck your pants into your socks. Perform tick checks thoroughly after you've spent time outdoors. Grow sprouts. Don't be afraid of the big bad tick. Just outsmart it with your own wiles and tactics.

Happy spring!
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