The Tickmobile

Politics: (noun) From Greek, poly, meaning many, and ticks, meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'

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My favourite and the last truck I ever owned, was a blue four-be-four Nissan extra-cab with a matching cap. With my bad back I could have done with a step to get in the cab but I enjoyed the added height. I used to sleep in the rear end on a high-tech blow-up mattress on overnight trips, which wasn't too bad except when the buzzing of intruder mosquitoes kept me awake all night. She was also a bit of a gas-guzzler but that was back in the days when gas was fifty cents a litre.

I can't recall how many trips I made to Keji in that old truck but I do know they took place in the spring when long-johns and chest waders were the order of the day. It was my way of helping Reg Baird do a trout survey. Not that I needed a reason to go there, I just loved the idea that I was fishing one of the spots that Albert and Eddie had fished in their 1908 book The Tent Dwellers. It felt like I was on hallowed ground.

I'd already done my spring stint but decided I'd like to see the place when the weather was warmer and I didn't need my cold-weather gear. I believe it was around early June when I threw the hip-waders, backpack, rod and vest in the back of the truck and set off one more time for Peskowesk Brook.

On entering the park I passed a couple of deer and some partridge and noticed how green the grass was and that there were leaves on the bushes. I had this feeling it was going to be a beautiful day. I parked the truck, didn't bother with any fly dope, quickly threw on my gear, slung the backpack containing my lunch and thermos over my shoulders and headed for the upper end of the brook.

The fish were challenging and fussy that day, with the odd one here and there and I only took one break for a cup of tea and a peanut butter sandwich. After about three hours, or maybe it was four, I was back at where I'd parked the truck with a big smile on my face. The simple act of being there made for a great day even though I'd not hooked many fish.

I threw the gear in the back, had one last cup of luke-warm tea and headed down the road. It was when I was on the paved section of the park that I noticed a small beetle crawling up my pants. I picked it up and took a quick peek. I'd attended a presentation on ticks at the museum so I knew very well what I was looking at! Obscenities and fear ran through my mind as I slammed on the brake, jumped out, and started stripping. There I was, all skin and bones, standing on the side of the road in my underwear and socks, in the middle of Keji National Park, frantically snapping my pants and shirt in the air. I also checked my underwear but couldn't find a thing. Satisfied that there were no more ticks on my clothes I slid back into the truck and headed home.
When I arrived at the house I told my wife what had happened. She ordered me to strip so that she could do a thorough examination (to which I didn't object), and get the clothes in the wash. I'm glad she did because she found three or four ticks just starting to dig in and it was a painless exercise for her to remove them.

During the next week or so she discovered a couple more sucking on my body and I assumed they were ones she had missed in her original exam. A month after my trip to Keji I had an appointment in town with a dermatologist. On the drive in I felt an itch in the middle of my back and wondered if another tick had found its way onto me. Unlike Regan in the Exorcist I couldn't turn my head backwards to see what was there so I asked the dermatologist to take a look. It wasn't until he dug it out from under my skin and showed it to me that I realised where they were coming from.

Even though I vacuumed the cab I became somewhat paranoid; after each drive every imaginary itch was an imaginary tick. A couple of months later I traded the Tickmobile for a Subaru. I nearly cried when I saw them drive her over to the used car lot. I thought of all the rivers she'd taken me to and of the music we'd listened to and the stories we'd heard. The only thing that softened the blow was that I suspected she would not, in all likelihood, be lonely.




Here's a humorous, fictional account of an encounter with a tick ...
Leonard had finally gotten the tick off his balls. Used a match, as I had suggested. It worked. 'Course, as he feared, he managed to burn his nuts, so I was on his shit list for a couple of days. The tick ended up in the commode, a burial at sea.
From Bad Chili by Joe R. Lansdale.

And here's an article taken from our local newspaper, The Chronicle Herald ...

TICK TACTICS
It takes a tick a few hours to fully attach so it is best to get rid of them before they "latch on."
If a tick is attached, use tweezers to carefully grasp its body as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly to allow the tick to release its mouth.
Avoid twisting or turning the tick; this could cause its head to break off inside you or your pet's body.
Losing the head makes it more difficult to identify the tick's species and increases the risk of the bite becoming infected.
Do not use matches, cigarettes, pins or gasoline to attempt to remove the tick. This may only irritate the tick into spitting up contents of its stomach into the host. The use of Vaseline or other oil products is not recommended because it may take hours to suffocate an oil-coated tick.
Following the tick's removal, wash the area well and apply an antiseptic, such as alcohol. If infection occurs, contact your doctor.

Tales Casting contest I Tangier River I Boyhood memories I Newfie salmon I Muddler's memories I Does a bear? I First ever salmon I The Tickmobile
U-Fish I 4 a.m. I Lyin seasun I Anecdotes I Fishgirl salmon I A natural fly I Main Event I Honeymoon I Vernon I Leslie I Coyote? I Newfie trout

Pat Donoghue, Canada, ©1997