— Snorkle Ticks, Tickle-Checks and Yearning at the Bus Stop

November 2, 2013 at 8:48 am | Posted in Online Ministry | Leave a comment

Long time Cape Codders, as in four-generation-local families, refer to newcomers like Heather and I as “wash-a-shores.”  Well, this wash-a-shore walks away from the shore and out into Cape Cod Bay  several times a week. Whenever low tide on Cape Cod Bay is during daylight hours, I pull up my wellies and off I  shuffle into the sea.

I ventured out recently after dropping Heather at a bus that took her to Logan Airport.  I rolled her luggage to the bus, tripping over my boots. She got on the bus and I looked up trying to see  which seat she was in through the windows. I traipsed back and forth along the length of the bus. No Heather.  A minute passes and a woman leaned out of the bus and said, “She’s five rows in from the back!” How nice was that? I found Heather, waved and off the bus went. Heather texted my phone and said, “That woman said you were ‘yearning’ for me!  Everybody on the bus was glad when you finally saw where I was!”

That lovely gesture stayed with me as I drove to the bay where I walk often.

Water communion is not a one-time ritual in September. It’s intimately part of my life now. Afterwords, I report on the day’s sightings out on the water and relay news from conversations with the oyster farmers.

“Whagya see today?” Heather asked later that same day.  Answer: “Snorkle Ticks.”   She laughed hysterically not believing a word of my tick tale.

A  New York Times story, however, recently proved that underwater  ticks exist.

On the Cape, ticks constitute a modern-day plague, or rather the Lyme and affiliated diseases they spread, are debilitating so many people that a tick costume on Halloween ain’t funny. They are just too horrible to consider donning as fancy dress. Everyday is “Tick or Trash” day for moi. On my walks, I take a plastic grocery bag to pick up litter along the major road where my home is. It’s often in the brush and I gotta think twice before throwing it into my plastic bag collection of debris and then check my hands, arms and legs to see if a few ticks have hopped a ride on me, a veritable gravy train for them.

It’s shocking how many people we know who have it now;  or are in remission;  or who have stricken loved ones with it; or who pick them off of their bodies regularly. Karen, for example, had two over the last two months and went on antibiotics both times. She was in hospital for three weeks a couple of years ago because of lyme. Meanwhile, Nancy, Walter, Dick, a neighbor and our arborist, have struggled with tick-borne diseases for years.

Last weekend, I hiked with another neighbor and two ticks climbed aboard her. She texted me a few hours later about it.

Heather and I  “tickle check” each other and our dog, Teddy, nearly every day and sometimes several times a day. We also treat some of our clothing with tick repellent. We’ve been checked for lime a few times in the last year.

So far all clear. And we hope to keep it that way.

But then came the snorkle ticks, othwise known as  urinor virga,  their  latin name.

I’m in no danger of catching them but Heather is. She’s a triathlete. She swims with locals in ponds and the bay for training. She runs through woods etc.  My wellies protect me.

I promised to bring Heather a sample back in a baggie next time I saw one. They swim just below the surface and have shiny tubular protrusions that siphon air to them.

I couldn’t withhold my giggles after I described to Heather what they look like.  None of it is true! I just couldn’t resist because we need jokes about lyme to lighten its  presence on the Cape and in New England. It’s hard, though, to be silly and playful when it comes to ticks.

But wait! I may have made it up but it appears to be true! Word now comes that some ticks have evolved to breathe while submerged in water — and not just for a few seconds. The most respected newspaper in the country cited “air-bubble” ticks as one reason why moose in New Hampshire are mysteriously dying. The  New York Times reported that ticks with aqua lung-like capabilities are feeding off moose much longer because the little buggers can breathe while immersed in water.

So dear UUs, when you’re drawing up water in future vacations for a September communion service, beware of Snorkle Ticks!

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