Thursday, July 31, 2014

If There Were Leeches in the Sand

Yes, I just spent three hours catching up on Facebook and my favorite blog, The Bloggess. I love her. Don't you love her too? What, you don't know The Bloggess?

Stop what you're doing and go check out The Blogess. Wait. I mean, finish what you're doing here and then go check out The Blogess. She's funny. She's strange. She's philosophical. She's practical. Did I mention that she's funny? Why is it so hard to tell people how funny other people are? It's like trying to retell the perfect joke that someone just told you. Impossible.

Don't look at me that way. I wasn't just on Facebook. I did message back and forth with my nephew for a while. He just graduated and he went on his first backwoods canoe trek this summer. I needed to hear how it went.

According to him, the leaders packed good food, but brought only fresh vegetables as opposed to dehydrated ones for a seven day trip and these went bad on the second day. They also portaged through hip-deep much with canoes, their gear, and my nephew said there were flies, mosquitoes, and leeches. God help me. There were leeches.

Holy cow! I wish I'd been on that trip. NOT!

Who planned this trip anyway? I've never portaged through hip-deep muck. I've fallen into hip-deep muck, but never been sent as a poor innocent into it carrying a backpack and a canoe. Couldn't they have paddled through the hip-deep muck?

I've packed for lots of trips like this and I always carried leech salt in my small dry bag, the one with my camera, sunscreen, and a granola bar in it. Well, the camera is always packed into two Ziploc bags inside my small dry bag because my almost-dry bag was never really dry except at the beginning of a trip. Never.

But leech salt was a requirement for that bag. Before my first trip, seven days in the Adirondacks, I was told that occasionally people got leeches on their feet or ankles if they had to step out of the canoe in swampy water, but that a little salt would take care of them like a slug. Do you remember that scene in 'Stand By Me' when the kid got the leech inside his underwear? Holy crow, I nearly fainted at the thought of that thing, so I carried my leech salt, didn't go near the water without it.

In all the seventeen years I paddled with that little container of salt, I never once got a leech. We should all be grateful for that.

If I had gotten a leech, I know just what I would have done.

First, I would have jumped out of the canoe, probably tipping the boat, the dog, all our gear, and the other occupant, Mike, into the leech-infested water. Then, I would have splashed through said leech-infested water with my leech until I'd reached the shore.

On the way to the shore, I would have begun to strip naked. I would have run screaming through brush, blueberry bushes, and brambles, throwing off the rest of my clothes, until I was totally naked and realized that the leech had come with me. Then, as I ran, I'd examine every part of my body for other leeches, run back toward the overturned canoe, dance in front of Mike, asking if there were any very large leeches clinging to my butt. Vestiges of sanity would return and I would remember that I had leech salt in my almost-dry bag. I'd splash through the leech-infested water again, hoping that being light on my feet would keep me from being further infested with leeches.

Then I would fumble with the buckle on my almost-dry bag, sure that in the moment it took for me to pop the buckle holding it to the canoe, I'd become infested with ten more leeches. I'd fling my almost-dry bag to shore and do my trying-to-walk-on-water routine all over again. On the shore, I'd fall into the brambles, remembering 'stop, drop, and roll' before I remembered that leeches won't come off with simple safety precautions. Then, I'd dump my precious camera in it's double Ziploc bag into shallow water before finding my precious film canister labeled 'leech salt.'

Wherein, I would rip the lid off that film canister and pour a healthy dose on my leech friend, barely watching him curl up in pain before tossing the rest of the salt over my head, my arms, my shoulders, my legs, and behind me onto my bare butt. I would likely dance around for a little longer, making sure I didn't step onto the fallen leech I had just salted. I would beg Mike for all of his leech salt and all of the salt from the spice kit, which he obviously wouldn't give me. Then, before looking through the mud, the blueberry bushes, and the brambles for my lost articles of clothing, I would make Mike examine every square inch of my skin to make sure I didn't have any other Klingons. I'd also examine every square inch of my clothing before putting any of it back on, just in case there were any leeches hiding there. Finally, oblivious to mud and wetness and thorns, I would put my clothes back on and resume was I was doing before the infestation. I might try to pretend that none of the embarrassing stuff happened. It wouldn't work. After the adrenaline wore off, I'm sure I'd burst into tears or into laughter, or both.

I am usually fairly prim about clothing, but it wouldn't matter if the President himself were in the next canoe over, this would be my reaction to getting a leech. I know. It would be mortifying.

The next week would involve nightmares of leeches in my food, in my tent, and even in raindrops during a squall. It would be horrific to try to sleep.

And mortifying.

And yet I am fully aware that leeches don't hurt, don't cause much damage, and are easily removed with a pinch of salt. I can't quite tell you why I feel this way about leeches. I just do.

Even though I know my reaction would be mortifying.

So, if we have any hip-deep muck to get through on any of our canoe trips, I will throw down that canoe, and dig my paddle deep into it to get across. I could paddle my canoe across the Sahara if I thought there were leeches hidden in the sand.

Thank you for listening, jb

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