“Tics are parasites- They live by feeding on the blood of others: birds, mammals, and reptiles. They remain attached to the host for several days while feeding , attached by their strong mouth parts. Some species pass on diseases, such as Lyme disease, as they feed. size 1/16-1/8 “ long, # species 650.”
For while this weekend, I adopted the role of and advocated for Mr. T, a tiny tic.
For two weekends a year, Maine Coast Men hosts The Gathering. A typical weekend is very informal. MCM’s is in a remote wooded area on a river with enclosed bunk houses and gathering rooms. It begins with a Friday night potluck and a voluntary “check in.” Saturdays offer workshops which are conducted by other members who volunteer. In the past their have been workshops about anger, living single, relationships with fathers and sons, spirituality, co dependency, homophobia, racism, singing, and so on. No one has to attend anything but usually over the weekend those who gather engage with each other and feel support and comradeship. Saturday night is a “variety” show with stories, music, singing, and improvising. The hope is that men return to their homes with renewed energy, insight, or connections with others as they move through the next 6 months, where many first time participants become returnees.
The next one will be Oct. 17-19, 2008 here in Lincolnville, ME. If you want to attend, check the web site linked above and download an application form. I’ll be there, and have signed up to cook Saturday night’s supper .
This year, the theme was “ Connecting With the Earth” and the highlight this time was the Saturday afternoon Council of All Beings. At the opening circle, we were encouraged to be receptive to some type of connection or contact with a being, animal, bird, etc. that we would then represent in the Council. I love this type of non linear cognitive process, and was thrilled that I might have some type of visit from a life form that might need my help.
At first, I thought I might have connected with a Downy Woodpecker that presented itself to me as I walked out the door of my cabin on my way to breakfast in the morning. But, Mr. woodpecker was eventually displaced by the tic that I uncovered that alerted itself to me after I felt it crawling up my leg.
One important and engaging activity that remained in place throughout Saturday was an ongoing mask-making workshop, where a huge collection of art materials was available for our use. I had no initial picture of what a tic would look like, but eventually worked it up, using a color tic photograph that I located in a nature book that I found down in the Nature Center at the camp. I grafted on some sharp teeth, and used sticks dipped in red paint as the mouth parts. I glued on some big blood drips.
How do you convince someone about the value of a parasite that sucks your blood and passes on Lyme disease?
I knew at least a dozen Appalachian Trail thru-hikers who contracted Lyme disease last year . They succumbed to various levels of sickness and fatigue. I myself was paranoid about tic bites, and faithfully wore knee high gaiters periodically dosed with a tick repellent spray containing 0.5 percent permethrin. I only had to remove three of them from my legs, none doing me any apparent harm.
The idea of a blood sucking parasite opened up to me the larger issue of the sometimes parasitic-like existence of forces that are not supporting our life. Things that might fall into this category might be television viewing, drugs, alcohol, commercial advertisements foisted on us by income fattening merchants. In this form, tics are real life reminders that we must be constantly vigilant about those influences that might actually burrow into our flesh and suck the life out of us.
For me, the more that I am out in the woods, walking on some sort of trail, the safer I am. The tics that I might meet there are far less likely to suck the life out of me than the tics I might not be able to recognize when they are masked.