Friday, May 16, 2003
Also in the month of May
Now that the weather is warm and we're spending more time outside going for walks and doing yard work, we are much more likely to encounter unwanted neighbors • the six and eight-legged variety • including black flies, mosquitoes and ticks.
Black flies are abundant at the moment, but don't pose a serious health threat and their numbers will subside in a couple of weeks. Since my youngest daughter learned that black flies concentrate on the tallest victim, she now likes to hold hands with a parent while going on walks. Guess there's a silver lining to every cloud of black flies.
While mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile virus, no cases have been reported in Carlisle to date. For more information on the statewide incidence, see the web site www.state.ma.us/dph/wnv/wnv1.htm.
Deer ticks are another matter entirely, because some ticks in Carlisle do carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease is common in Carlisle's dog population. Both the Carlisle Animal Hospital and the Concord Animal Hospital are seeing about 40% of dogs testing positive for exposure to the disease. A canine vaccine is available, though the vaccine for humans has been taken off the market. (A test and vaccine are not currently given to cats, because they are thought to be more resistant to the disease.)
One product that targets ticks with minimal additional harm to the environment is Damminix, which consists of permethrin-treated cotton balls inside cardboard tubes. The tubes can be stashed near the edge of the yard in mice habitats such as brush piles, stone walls, etc. out of the reach of pets and children. Evidently, the mice use the cotton balls to line their nests, and there the insecticide permethrin kills the ticks on the property.
The month of May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. For more information see the article by Dr. Claudia Talland on page 7, and also visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
Once, we went camping in the Florida Everglades in late spring. The campground was almost deserted, and we soon learned why ,when clouds of voracious mosquitoes drove us back to the visitor center for insect repellant. The ranger smiled, and recommended products containing DEET (also effective against ticks), which she called "Everglades perfume." Perhaps this season "Everglades perfume" will be in style in Carlisle as well.
Each morning I make the long treacherous journey.
Down the hallway, down the creaking wooden stairs,
Across the cold, hard basement floor.
Past the litter box, where the night's activity awaits.
Past the foosball machine lying silent on the floor, its plastic kickers frozen in place, ready for the next game that never seems to come.
To my desk.
The start of another work day alone at the bottom of the technology well.
From my corner, the spiders and I communicate with the world,
Reaching out with electrons to other humans as fused as I am to a glowing monitor
To a keyboard that translates ideas, fresh and alive,
To dead streams of ones and zeros
And sends them through its copper umbilical cord into the ether.
The phone, last century's technological marvel,
Lies as silent as a weary octogenarian.
Few people call anymore when a safe e-mail will suffice.
No worry this way about an offending comment or the need to return idle banter.
It's all work now, now until dark when the light from the small rectangular window above my desk turns as black as my mood.
What happened to the days of camaraderie?
Of office politics and practical jokes?
Of rampant rumors and secret romances?
The boss disappearing for afternoon golf
While we sneak out early to the nearest tavern
For more rumors . . . and romances.
Now I hear only jangling electronic chimes announcing the arrival of more black letters Neatly arranged on a luminous white screen.
The phone stares me down, but I take the safe way out,
Sending back the same letters - rearranged, but just as orderly and lifeless -
Running my fingers over the keys like a ten-legged spider sprinting for the crack in the wall that hides him from both predator and prey.
When the day has ended
I commute back upstairs,
Back to the unkempt world of real people,
Back to the world of banter and bellowing and bawling,
Of arguments and antics and affectations,
Of coping and coddling and caring.
Damn, it's good to be home.
© 2003 The