Not Eden Anymore

At Cedar Creek Park, 20 April (photo by Kate St. John)

I remember a time in Pennsylvania when we could bushwhack through dense brush or lie down in a meadow without worrying about black-legged ticks and Lyme disease. In retrospect it seemed like Eden.

Nowadays we have to be careful, especially in May-August when the tiniest freckle-sized nymphs are active. Our best defense is to prevent ticks from getting on our skin. I’ve stopped bushwhacking and I don’t lie down in meadows to look at the sky.

Black-legged tick on a blade of grass (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Eden is over. These stanzas from Mark Doty’s poem, Deep Lane (Into Eden Came The Ticks), describe it perfectly:


Into Eden came the ticks,
princes of this world,
heat-seeking, tiny, multitudinous …

from Deep Lane, Into Eden Came The Ticks by Mark Doty

My husband Rick, a poet himself, recommends Mark Doty’s Deep Lane book (here on Amazon). You can read a bit more of the poem here.

(photo of early Spring in Cedar Creek Park, Westmoreland County, PA by Kate St. John, photo of tick from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

p.s. Indeed the distribution of ticks in PA has changed a lot since 1900, per a new study reported here.

See the Pittsburgh Quarterly, June 2019: Lyme: Pittsburgh’s Growing Epidemic

1 thought on “Not Eden Anymore

  1. I was thinking about this the other day. My brother suffered with Lyme disease for years. All of his immediate family had it at least once. He’s a hunter and loves the woods. We grew up hiking, etc. as did my husband’s family. We taught our kids to love the outdoors too. Now I feel like it’s too dangerous to slather chemicals on my very young grandchildren just to enjoy a sunny day out in nature. UGH.

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