Ticks are much on the minds, and too often on the bodies, of people who venture into the woods, or more particularly the surrounding shrubbery. In the past, most people in New Hampshire had little to worry about. But the Tick Line - like the Posting Against Everything Line, like the Hostile and Aggressive Driving Line, like the Everything We Hate Line - has been steadily drifting north.
I live at about elevation 1,553 on a ridge northeast of Colebrook. I've never had to worry about ticks. The term "Ugh" comes to mind, as in the scene in "The African Queen" in which Humphrey Bogart, having jumped overboard to pull the boat, quivers, "Get 'em off me," in this case involving leeches, a double-ugh.
Longtime friend Glen Zibolis, from Nashua Telegraph days, circa 1968, went into camp with me this past weekend. Camp is at around elevation 1,850, in the middle of nowhere. We negotiated the Fetid Swamp, its clutches always ready to suck in the unwary, and had a fine lunch on the porch, then negotiated the primordial ooze back.
Back in my kitchen, Glen clapped hand to neck and came away with a tick. Upon capture, it proved to be a dog tick (it was such an unusual thing that we had to look it up on the Internet to be certain of species). We then tried to kill it. It was like trying to crush a tank. I almost had to go out to the shop for a hammer.Ticks migrate up rivers and then tributaries. Call it climate change or global warming or whatever the spin-doctors want to call it, but oh, the loss of innocence.
A couple of weeks ago in this space, I wrote to veteran state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro that his compliance with the ill-informed, domino-effect Chambers of Commerce support for Northern Pass was not like him, and I asked him to call.
He did, and we had a fine visit. Lou is one of my favorite politicians, and that is not an oxymoron. I'm a libertarian bordering on anarchist. We get along fine. With him on some issues or not, he's been in it for the long run. I admire anyone who steps up like that, and for scant reward save calls to call, like mine.
I think it is hard, for Lou or anyone else way down there, to envision the awful effect this not-for-need, all-for-greed scheme will have on the landscape. Up here, given scant attention by the media, it means 37 miles of entirely new right of way. Imagine that around, say, Concord. There would be an uproar.
Go up Route 145 between Colebrook and Pittsburg and stop atop Ben Young Hill at that little turnoff (a remnant of the original ox-cart route) and turn around and take a look. It is a beautiful, breath-taking and unscarred landscape.
Even buried, everyone's feel-good cop-out, Northern Pass would leave a scar where there is none nor ever has been.
I encouraged Lou to search his torso to see whether there was a place on his epidermis without a scar. Mine has plenty. But this one would be straight across the heart.
John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook NH 03576, or firstname.lastname@example.org