In response to the threat of tick-borne diseases like Lyme’s, many popular news articles recommend “avoiding forested or grassy areas.”
As if I am going to avoid forests and grasslands!
Some would have you believe that the world outdoors is brimming with unseen perils, poisons, and venoms waiting to strike. They paint terrifying pictures of stinging and biting animals, snakes, spiders, poison ivy, oh my! But the truth is that nature is not malignant (nor is it benevolent) to us. It is indifferent.
Here’s how to deal with the scary things that others will tell you about the world:
1) Educate yourself: We all fear the unknown. If a bedbug is a big scary unknown thing, how can you ever deal with it? As my favourite role model (Marie Curie!) once said, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”
Is the bite of a Black Widow really deadly (only to those with weakened immune systems)? What are the consequences of a wasp sting? How do you identify and avoid poison ivy? Which of the flying insects are potentially dangerous and which are harmless or even beneficial? Question everything. Investigate for yourself and compile credible sources.
2) Be realistic: What are the odds (really really) that you are going to be bitten by a copperhead? You are nine times more likely to die from a lightning strike than a venomous snake bite in the US. Consider comparing these statistics to your daily activities, like driving.
3) Be prepared: Know the dangers of your area and be prepared to react if they ever do become a problem. Know how to treat poison ivy exposure should you inadvertently get into it. Know how to remove a tick.
4) Be brave: Go out into the world. Learn about it. Love it. The rewards outweigh the dangers by many orders of magnitude.
Never let anyone scare you away from nature. We must each experience it for ourselves. It is part of our existence as humans; we are part and parcel with this world, not distinct and separate. We are animals integrating with a matrix of living and breathing things, each trying to survive in its own right.