Posts Tagged ‘Kewaydin Lake’

The Summer of Lasts

So we’re moving away.  In the near future, I hope to  discuss where we are going and why.  Our wonderful  homestead in Maine is up for sale.

Consequently, this has been a summer of lasts.  The last time my children and grandchildren will experience Maine’s magic with their grandparents.  Believe me, we made the most of it, and everyone had a wonderful time hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, cliff jumping, camping, and toasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the campfire.  I will always treasure the special bond we developed over the years thanks to Maine.  Even if the youngest ones don’t remember precise details, they will always remember that they shared good times with us, and even if they can’t quite remember why, they will always know that they carry a special place in their heart for Maine summers.

Since the weather has been so warm, we’ve tried to make the most of hiking to our favorite spots, as well as trying new ones.  Because of the warmth, Fall is late getting started with almost no leaves turning color.  Our hummingbirds finally migrated away this past Sunday and I cleaned out the feeder and put it away.  This weekend it is supposed to rain – – a welcome relief to the most serious drought we’ve experienced in the seven years we’ve been here.  Forty-degree nights will accompany the rain.

That’s when I realized today was my last chance, perhaps forever, to swim in Kewaydin Lake, my favorite of the many lakes surrounding my house, and I was determined to make the most of it.  At the edge of Kewaydin Lake is a small dam, and the water spills out into a rushing stream below, eventually flowing to the Atlantic Ocean.  With my dog, Truman, we swam and swam in the lake for 45 minutes, basking in the sun-warmed top layer and me enjoying the sharp coolness of the deeper areas on my lower extremities.  It’s unlikely that we’ll enjoy another week of daytime temperatures in the 80s with nights in the 50s anytime soon, so I really cherished every moment.

To swim in Kewaydin is an almost holy experience, similar to immersing in a mikva, a Jewish ritual pool.  The purity of the clear cleansing waters, the beautiful surroundings of mountains rimming the lake, the blue sky, the quiet, and the solitude (for rarely are other swimmers there) make it truly special.

Just as I left the water, a woman approached the edge of the dam.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” she asked.

I confessed I didn’t.

“We met last year at the transfer station.  We started talking, and exchanged phone numbers.  We were going to go walking together to get some exercise.”

From the moment she reminded me where we had met, I remembered the circumstances very well.  She was a lifelong resident of our town.  Her husband had recently died, leaving her feeling completely helpless, lonely and bereft.  I had suggested that we make time to walk on a weekly basis, knowing that she needed to unburden herself and that I could be a sympathetic ear, and we could both benefit from the exercise.  She was a genuinely nice and gentle person.  But after multiple attempts and conflicting schedules, we could never seem to make walking together happen; and we simply fell out of touch.  And now, here she was.

“I come here often,” she said.  “I’ve been walking regularly, but I always end up here.  It gives me comfort to visit Dennis,” she said.  “You see, this is where I put him a few months ago:  over the dam,” she said.  She excused herself “to go be with Dennis” and walked about 20 feet ahead, sat at the edge, and immersed herself in deep thought.

It took a moment for the meaning of her words to sink in.

Her husband’s cremated remains were in Lake Kewaydin, spread exactly where I loved most to swim!

This was my last swim at Kewaydin, and like so many things about Maine, it was certainly momentous.  Talk about Final Closure!

If you are interested in finding out more about our Maine home for sale, please go to www.MaineWoodsHomeForSale.com.

 

 

 

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Swimming Lessons

Although Standard Poodles are usually natural water dogs and love swimming, my previous Standard Poodle only liked it if his feet could touch the bottom – – I guess you’d call it wading.  Since we’ve had some very hot days this past week, the lake finally warmed up enough for us to go swimming, so on Friday afternoon we decided to take our first dip of the year and of course we brought Truman.

He loved the water and caught on to swimming immediately.  Soon he was swimming out to deeper water with great joy, retrieving sticks that we’d thrown.  Only a few days ago I gave him a very short haircut – – it made me sad to say goodbye to his fluffy, luxuriant puppy hair – – but I was getting tired of bathing him and brushing out the tangles on a daily basis after he went exploring in muddy areas around our property.  The shorter cut makes what I hope will be daily swims in the lake all pleasure for him and low maintenance for me.

 

 

 

Almost Busted

Even though I knew from the outset that I wouldn’t be catching fish today – – it was the hottest part of the day when I set out, and fish bite mostly during the coolness of early morning or at dusk  – – I took my kayak along with my dog Truman for a paddle around Kewaydin Lake.  I did bring my fishing pole because my kayak has a holder, so it’s not too difficult to fish while paddling.  Basically, one puts the worm on the hook, releases some fishing line from the pole, sticks the pole in the holder and then proceeds to slowly paddle around the lake (this is called “trolling”).

Truman, our Standard Poodle puppy, is now 9 months old, and he has really grown!  I should have gotten the dog before the boat and not the other way around, because it’s a very small kayak with barely room for one, much less a giant of a dog.  It leaves me completely squished and slowly but surely my legs lose all feeling as he blocks my circulation while he fights for space. He loves the ride but it takes him a while to find a comfortable position, and as he shifts from side to side I can barely keep from capsizing.

We did manage to paddle the circumferance of the entire lake, and I was on my way back to our point of origin, when 100 feet from shore a motorboat sidled up next to me, seemingly appearing out of nowhere.

“Is your fishing line in , or out?”

It was a Game Warden, the equivalent of Law Enforcement rangers, and he wanted to make sure I had a valid Maine fishing license.  His question was rhetorical, because he could see that my line was in the water.  But he asked this for two reasons: to see if I’m truthful, and to establish guilt or innocence.  The definition of fishing in Maine is not catching  a fish, it’s putting a fishing line in the water. If I didn’t have a license but had my fishing pole in its holder but the line was not in the water, I would not be considered fishing and I could not be cited for fishing without a license.

“In,” I said.

“May I see your fishing license, please?”

I’ve been fishing many times a week in many different lakes in Maine for the past five years, but this was the first time I’d been asked to show my license. Uh-oh.

“Umm, I do have a license, but it’s in my car, and I’m actually heading that way now.  Would you mind waiting until I get back to shore, so I can show it to you?”

Theoretically I am supposed to keep the license on my person while fishing, but I didn’t have a waterproof bag, so I hadn’t brought it with me.  Fortunately he was a nice guy, and since by now I was only 50 feet from shore, he followed me to the launch area. Leaving my kayak, I ran to the car, and ran back to the warden.  He looked the fishing license over very carefully and pronounced me good as my word.

Fishing licenses cost $64 for non-residents and $22 for Maine residents.  They are good for a year starting January 1, although there is a period of some weeks in the Fall and early winter where fishing is illegal, primarily so that the fish can establish and stabilize their population before the lakes freeze.  The license includes the ability to go ice fishing, something I have not yet tried (I lack an auger to cut through the ice on the lake, nor do I have the special traps).

While the chance of being stopped by a Game Warden in Maine’s quieter backwoods lakes and ponds are slim, the penalties for not having a license are severe and not worth the risk.  The base fine for fishing without a license is  $75. An amount equal to two times the cost of the required license and permit is added to the base fine. A violator also may be sentenced to pay an additional fine of $20 per fish taken illegally. And they have the right to revoke your fishing license for one full year for certain fishing-related offenses.

“I’m really sorry you had to follow me back to shore,” I said apologetically to the Game Warden.  He said he didn’t mind.  We then spent the next 15 minutes swapping fish stories and sharing favorite secret fishing holes before he returned his boat to the water, in search of other little old ladies who might flaunt the law.

 

Loving the Lakes

Kezar Lake

Kezar Lake

This past week while people in my home town sweltered with high heat and humidity and rain of biblical proportions, here in Maine the weather was in the 70s F during the daytime, 50s F during the night, and dry.  Other than those pesky deerflies and midges, it was just about perfect.  So I decided to make the most of my day and do some serious kayaking and fishing on 3 nearby lakes:  Kezar Lake, Kewaydin Lake, and Virginia Lake, located 2 – 6 miles from my home.

I didn’t last very long on Kewaydin Lake.  The wind picked up and the water became very choppy.  I love adventure, but when I’m out on the lake by myself with no people around, I don’t take chances. I always wear a life vest, even when it’s very hot and the water is calm and it would be more comfortable to not wear it.  In the colder months especially,  I keep my kayak close to the shore.  If the sky turns ominous and looks like there might be a thunderstorm, I head back to the car.  And if the wind produces lots of chop, I also call it quits.  Being safe is a lot more sensible than death by drowning, hypothermia or electrocution.  (I’m not being melodramatic here.)  Fortunately for me, there are always other opportunities to go kayaking on more favorable days.

I decided to try Kezar Lake by the Upper Bay.  Much of it is protected by coves and islands, although there is often chop in the middle of the lake or sometimes a lot of turbulence caused by speedboats taking joyrides.  But I was lucky.  Other than a father and son fishing by the dock, there were no one else around and no boats on the lake, and the water was smooth like glass. It was fun to watch the little boy – about 8 years old –  catch and release fish after fish (perch, hornpout (the local name for catfish), sunfish, trout, and bass!), with his dad puffed up with pride at his son’s successes.

I was so mesmerized by the silence, the beauty, the fresh air, and the rhythm of my paddle, I completely lost track of time until the sky turned pink and orange as the sun fell behind the mountains, and the water glowed with the sky’s reflection.   I remember thinking how I wished I could have taken my blood pressure at that point because it had to be at a record low; I was so completely relaxed and at peace.   It was dark when I loaded the kayak into the car and headed home.

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The next morning I headed to Virginia Lake.

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Friday morning on Virginia Lake

 

This is a bit more off the beaten path and again, I was the only one on the lake.  After a few hours of blissful paddling, thick puffy clouds in white and steel grey started forming, and I realized that I’d soon have to leave lest I get caught in a downpour.  So I paddled back to the put-out and fished for two 20″ trout who teasingly swam around my boat.  The water was so clear I felt like I could have reached down and grabbed them.  They did manage to nibble and steal my worms but I failed to hook them.  As I packed up, I could not help but think that the past two days had been a huge gift, fish or no fish.  I felt a profound sense of inner peace and purity of spirit.  At the risk of sounding corny, dumb and naive, it made me wonder why anyone anywhere in the world would seek to wage war or choose conflict, if they could choose this.

Virginia Lake panorama, Stoneham Maine (click to enlarge)

Virginia Lake panorama, Stoneham Maine (click to enlarge)

 

January Fun

Today while driving to the mechanic to get studded snow tires installed on my car, I passed Kewaydin Lake, summer home of my kayaking, swimming and fishing adventures.  The lake is frozen solid now, and people are starting to put shacks onto the lake for ice fishing.

It’s been bitterly cold:  last night it was near 0 degrees but with windchill our home weather station measured a -43 F reading and during the daytime it’s been in the low single digits.  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be -13 F without windchill.  So I was very impressed as I looked out onto Kewaydin Lake and saw that someone had laboriously removed about 1′ of accumulated snow to create his own 70′ x 15′ personal ice rink.  This fellow and his dog were having the time of their lives, the man skating up and down the cleared icy area and shooting a puck with his hockey stick, and the dog slipping and sliding and racing ahead to retrieve his master’s shot.  Pure joy!

A Mainer and his dog making the most of a cold winter day

A Mainer and his dog making the most of a cold winter day (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

Fall Chores

After a month of Jewish holidays spent in our home town and in Kansas City, where my youngest daughter recently moved with her family, we returned to Maine.  We missed the peak leaf-peeping season this year, although I was able to take a quick series of photos with my cellphone the first couple of days while we were settling in (see below).

Many people from my hometown are amazed that I don’t find life in Maine boring, especially since our location is pretty isolated and we don’t live near other people or activities.  “What do you do all day?” they want to know.

Yes, I do keep busy.  It’s just “busy” in ways that are very different from city life.  I don’t do carpools or babysit or participate in childcare while in Maine.  I don’t work in an office.  I don’t visit the dry cleaners and I don’t drive in traffic.

For my husband, location is irrelevant, professionally speaking.  He has worked from home for a few decades as a software developer/architect and his eyes are glued to a computer monitor and his ears to his business phone.  That said, the view out of his office window (located in our walk-out basement and facing the woods) can’t be beat.

The first few days after returning from our home town were really busy.  As the weather turned colder, the clock was ticking for me to complete all my outdoor chores.  First I pulled up the peppers and tomatoes, chard and kale from my raised-bed gardens.  The first two weren’t going to ripen further and it seemed pointless to keep them going.  The latter were pretty scraggly and tired looking.  Instead, I planted lots and lots and lots of hardneck fiery garlic.  I covered the beds of compost with straw to further insulate them against harsh winter temperatures.

I planted garlic in the composted raised beds and covered them in straw.

I planted garlic in the composted raised beds and covered them in straw.

The apple orchard also needed work.  Many new branches grew over the summer and they needed pruning (although many people wait for early Spring for this task).  The branches were growing upward instead of outward, and by doing so, not only would any future apples be harder to reach at picking time, the clumpy crowding meant that apples wouldn’t be exposed to enough air, space, and sunlight.  In order to train the branches to grow out rather than up, I tied small plastic water bottles to the branches to weigh them down.

plastic water bottles help weigh down and train the apple branches to grow out rather than up

plastic water bottles help weigh down and train the apple branches, so they’ll grow outwards rather than upwards

Basic errands are always time-fillers because of the great distance I live from shopping, the bank, the post office, and the dump.  My Maine dentist is a 2 hour drive away.  Our dog’s vet is a one-hour drive one way, and recently he needed emergency care and that was a 3 1/2 hour drive one way!  A once-a-week trip to the supermarket is usually a four-hour foray (almost an hour each way to the market, and I also try to combine the journey with other errands).  “Taking out the trash” is a 45-minute round trip to the town dump, usually 2x a week (no, there is no trash pickup).  I also like to buy certain things “locally” such as eggs from organically fed, free-range chickens, organic kale, organic apples and seasonal pumpkins and squash from nearby farms.  But each Maine farm has their specialty items so it means visiting several farms to complete my shopping list.  The farms involve a 30-mile circuit drive  – – one in Lovell (Flyaway Farm in Stowe sells their produce and eggs in Central Lovell Market) and one in Sweden (Pietree Orchards)  and one in Fryeburg (Weston’s Farm).  And these are still closer than the nearest supermarket! That said, anytime I drive anywhere the scenery is spectacular, and there is never traffic, so the time flies by.

Once I bring produce home, it needs to be sorted, cleaned, checked for bugs and cooked or juiced, and the unusable stuff, composted.  (The pumpkins were especially time consuming and messy.  But besides using the flesh for pies, soups and stews, I managed to save the seeds for roasting – yum.) I easily spend 4 hours per day cooking and baking from scratch; more time is spent in the kitchen on Fridays to get ready for the Sabbath.

I also made some delicious pickled turnips this week.  It’s odd but if I eat a few of these before bedtime, even though it’s quite spicy, it totally cures my gastric reflux problem.  I guess it’s the “alkaline” balancing out the “acid.”  This recipe is actually a Middle Eastern recipe.  You will find pickled turnips used in street-side cafes in Israel as a relish that is used in pita and felafel sandwiches, or in shwarma and pita, and it couldn’t be easier to make (other than the peeling and chopping time).
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  • Pickling jar:  wash in very hot soapy water and/or sterilize, and air dry. I prefer the wide-mouthed Ball brand.
  • Peel some purple-top turnips, and slice them into small “finger-sized” pieces.  Put a layer of these turnips into the glass pickling jar.
  • Peel some garlic cloves, but leave the individual cloves whole.  Add a 1 – 3 cloves on top of the turnip layer.
  • Peel a beet, also slicing into “fingers.”  Add a couple of pieces on top of the garlic.
  • Now add a whole hot pepper to the layered mix.  I would suggest habanero, jalapeno, or serrano.
  • Add one bay leaf.
  • Repeat this layering order until the jar is packed tight and full.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon of coarse salt to the jar (per quart-sized jar).
  • Now make a mix:  1 part vinegar, 1 part cider vinegar, and 2 parts water.  Add this mix to the packed jar until it’s filled to the very top.
  • Seal the jar.  Shake the jar.
  • Let the jar sit on your kitchen counter for 7 days, shaking the jar intermittently every time you pass by.  After 7 days the pickles will be ready to eat.  Store the glass jar with the pickles in the fridge once the 7 days of pickling are complete.

I also baked corn bread (to go with a pumpkin-and-bean-based chili I made) in a heavy cast-iron skillet.  It was the first time I had tried making corn bread in this old-fashioned way and it was a huge success.  I now own several different sizes of pots and pans and skillets and grills that are made of heavy cast iron.  They are made in the USA by the Lodge Logic company which has been around for a gazillion years.  Their products last for generations and they are extremely reasonably priced.  Food really does cook differently and taste better when made with cast iron, whether on top of a stove or on the ashes of an outdoor campfire.  The more they are used, the more a natural non-stick coating forms, making cleanup super easy.  The important thing is to dry them immediately after cleanup so they will not rust.  Since making the switch to cast iron, I rarely use my Farberware pots anymore.

It was fun to bring out the mittens, gloves and hats and put away the bug spray and bug nets until next Spring.  We also shut off the outdoor water pipes, and put summer tools in storage while bringing out the shovels and rakes to the shed.  I also spent a couple of hours collecting kindling from dead wood and fallen branches in the woods, so that starting our wood stove would be an easy undertaking.

Doing laundry takes a lot longer when you don’t have a dryer and must hang it piece by piece outside on the clothesline.  I also try to get in a walk of 2 – 4 miles every day: more time.  And I am involved in several writing and photography projects at the moment.  And:  am I doing nothing when I am just sitting along a brook or pond, contemplating and praying and thinking things through?  We also try to host guests for a weekend or even a week at a time on a frequent basis.

My point is, I am managing my time differently than I did in the city, and while there is nowhere near the same level of stress — and yes, I am living slower – – I don’t think I am “accomplishing” less than I did in the city and my days are certainly filled and worthwhile.  I do work hard physically and am kept busy, but it’s at tasks that I enjoy. The busy work doesn’t feel like busy work.  And that is a huge thing.

And now for some glimpses of the end of leaf season, taken with my Samsung Galaxy S4 cellphone:

Only 2 days after this photo was taken, all the leaves are gone.

Only 2 days after this photo was taken of our house, all the leaves are gone.

We replaced the screens with acrylic panels so we can enjoy the porch even during cold weather.

We replaced the screens with acrylic panels so we can enjoy the porch even during cold weather.

Now that the leaves are gone, we can see the pond at the bottom of the driveway through the trees.

Now that the leaves are gone, we can see the pond at the bottom of the driveway through the trees.

We actually disassemble the fire pit/campfire every year because it's where the snow plow guy pushes the snow from the driveway

We actually disassemble the fire pit/campfire area every year because it’s where the snow plow guy pushes the snow from the driveway

Our solar panels.

Our solar panels.

The yellow box at left is our backup generator, fueled by propane, which is buried in a 1000 gallon underground tank.  You can see the top of the tank - it's the black cylinder in the middle of the bottom of the picture.

The yellow box at left is our backup generator, fueled by propane, which is buried in a 1000 gallon underground tank. You can see the top of the tank – it’s the black cylinder in the middle of the bottom of the picture.

Taken through the windshield of my car, this is the road leading to my house.

Taken through the windshield of my car, this is the road leading to my house.  You turn left at the second hill.

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My favorite summer swimming spot, Kewaydin Lake, is beautiful in every season.

 

 

Camp Savta 2014: Days 5 – 7: Hiking Black Cap Mountain

The 4 year old had no trouble reaching the top of Black Cap.

The 4 year old had no trouble reaching the top of Black Cap.

Although we had taken several long walks, my 12-year-old grandson suggested that we take a “real” hike, saying, “how can we say we’ve been to Maine and that we didn’t go on a hike?”  He remembered last year’s hike to Black Cap Mountain and wanted to repeat it.  It was easy to see why.  Black Cap Mountain is a great introduction to hiking for children.  It’s not long – only 1.3 miles each way – and the ascent is steadily upward enough to make kids put forth a bit of effort, but not so steep that it’s a killer.  Really, a two-year-old can do this hike (but be prepared to carry your kid part of the way if they tire easily).  It’s also suitable for older people – – I was privileged one day to witness a 94-year-old woman make the ascent.

They all made it to the top!

They all made it to the top!

 

Besides the beautiful view, you are looking at a very special 8 year old.  She experienced some serious orthopedic problems in her legs, which resulted in her legs being casted for several months, as well as physical therapy 3x a week.  She had only gotten these casts off a couple of weeks before the trip to Maine, and the fact that she made it to the top of the mountain when her legs were weaker than normal only shows the incredible determination and strength of character of this kid!  She never complained throughout her ordeal, either.

Besides the beautiful view, you are looking at a very special 8 year old. She experienced some serious orthopedic problems in her legs, which resulted in her legs being casted for several months, as well as physical therapy 3x a week. She had only gotten these casts off a couple of weeks before the trip to Maine, and the fact that she made it to the top of the mountain when her legs were weaker than normal only shows the incredible determination and strength of character of this kid! She never complained throughout her ordeal, either.  Thank G-d she is fine now and back to normal.

It's always more fun to go down the trail than up!

It’s always more fun to go down the trail than up!  The little kid in the center is only 2.

To get to Black Cap Mountain, one goes through the town of North Conway in New Hampshire, then heads over to Kearsage Rd to Hurricane Mountain Road.  Hurricane Mountain Road is what they call a “seasonal” road, meaning it is not maintained (plowed) in winter and as such it is gated closed after the summer season.  It’s extremely steep but the paved asphalt road is very well maintained for the heavy tourist traffic it receives in the summertime.  Don’t even think of trying the road if you have a monster RV, but cars and motorcycles aren’t a problem.

The dirt parking lot for Black Cap Mountain is at the highest point on Hurricane Mountain Road.  (You can continue further on Hurricane Mountain Road all the way to the bottom on the other side, if you want to do a pretty country drive).  The ascent is steep in places but gradual.  Once you get to the top, the views are stupendous of the White Mountains, plus the town of North Conway in New Hampshire.  You can also see Maine and the many lakes of the Western District to the east and south.  It’s also a great place to visit during leaf-peeping season.

After we finished the hike, we made our way to Lovell Library where the kids checked out plenty of books to keep them busy over Shabbat.  We also managed to have another kayaking expedition and swim in Kewaydin Lake.  This would be our last day of activities in Maine, since Shabbat was coming and on Saturday night after havdala (the short prayer ceremony that bodes farewell to the Sabbath and ushers in the new week), everyone would be packing up and my daughter would make the long drive back to Baltimore.  My husband and I spent Saturday taking a long walk of 2 miles with the kids (now that they were seasoned hikers) near our house so our daughter could have an hours-long uninterrupted nap, in preparation for the coming drive.  She would be the sole driver with 9 kids in the car (seven of hers plus 2 nieces).  The plan was to leave by 9:30 p.m. and arrive at her home early the next morning (it’s a 10.5 hour drive on average, but that’s without kids).   A babysitter had already been arranged in her hometown so that my daughter could sleep and recover from the journey upon her arrival.  The hope was that the kids would sleep through the night in the car, and fortunately, they did.  Fewer bathroom stops meant much better time – – she was able to complete the trip in only 9 hours and 45 minutes, which is practically a record.

Havdala ceremony says goodbye to the Sabbath and ushers in a new week.

Havdala ceremony says goodbye to the Sabbath and ushers in a new week.

9:30 pm and the 12-passenger van is packed to the hilt as we say our goodbyes.

9:30 pm and the 12-passenger van is packed to the hilt as we say our goodbyes.

Oh – remember that rash that my daughter had (see previous posts)?  Well, it continued to get worse, but our days were so ridiculously busy that by nightfall, when the walk-in clinic was open, my daughter was too tired to go.   By Saturday night it was huge (12.5″ x 5.5″), hot to the touch, and she was feeling achy and popping Motrin like candy.  So instead of the much-desired nap upon her arrival once back at her home, she took advantage of having a babysitter to go to the Emergency Room, where she was diagnosed with Lyme disease!  No, she was not aware of being bitten by a tick nor did she ever see one.  There is a good chance that she was bitten by a tick in her home state, shortly before she came to Maine, since the rash began only on Day 3.  The other amazing thing is that the rash appeared on her upper abdomen, an area that is covered by clothing, and she had not been in tall grass.  The moral of the story:  you can never be too careful when it comes to Lyme disease prevention.  If you have been outdoors in areas where ticks are known to be prevalent, then do a very careful body check before you go to bed each night, and don’t assume that long sleeves, pants, socks, shoes, and repellent are enough to prevent a tick bite!  And don’t be stupid like we were – – at the first sign of trouble, get to a doctor for diagnosis so you can start treatment sooner than later, before real damage is done.