|Leeking Ink #21 Table of Contents
Introduction ..Page 2
Good Mail ..Pages 3-5
Shenandoah ..Pages 6-8
Journal ..Pages 9-17
One Week In September ..Pages 18-26
Veg Life ..Pages 27-28
One Week in September (Excerpt)
Mugged By Mother Nature
(Much of this article was written as it happened. I apologize for any confusing shifts of tense. )
I was supposed to go to Cape May, New Jersey for a long weekend. I was even going to use two of my precious vacation days. I felt exhausted by my daily commute, work load, and people in general. Well, after the Subaru broke down Friday morning, my plans started disintegrating. I also learned that Androo and Madison would be coming to Maryland Thursday or Friday. I decided to go camping instead. I found a state park about a half an hour from my house that looked nice. Janette (my mother), Ivan (dog), and I went to look at it Sunday morning. Elk Neck State Park turned out to be perfect for my needs! It was such a nice day we hiked the two mile trail to the lighthouse. Once I got home I started to pack my clothes, stationary, reading material, and other necessities. All of a sudden I felt so tired. Perhaps weary would be a better word. I decided I was too drained to drive back and set up the tent. I stayed home and crawled in bed with a stack of zines and letters that needed answered. Later I watched a movie, worked on my review zine, and went to sleep.
My main reason for wanting to go off by myself was to have the peace and quiet to write. I owe a zillion letters, I have ideas for several articles, and I wanted to read. That brings me to this morning, Monday September 13, 1999. I decided to drive back to Elk Neck State Park and have a little one day vacation. The park is located at the top of the Chesapeake Bay. It is on a wedge of land that juts into the bay in between the Northeast River and the Elk River. The morning was cool and clear with the first hints of fall.
I gathered my gear and started out a little after 8am. Three blocks from my house I remember that I wanted to bring my birding binoculars. I went back and tried to find them. They weren't in their usual place (on top of my birding books, next to my cameras). I couldn't find them. I obsessed about where they were for most of the drive there. I don't lose things like that. The remainder of the drive I thought about how much I was looking forward to seeing Androo.
Also on the way here, I saw the scariest mullot ever in North East, MD. It was on a woman who had bleached the tail a stark white-blond, but the top was about an inch long and her roots were much darker. The buzzed top section was a totally different color from the tail.
I downed the last of my coffee as I entered the park. I drove to the North East Beach Area. They had an honor box and I put all the change I had in it. I should have left $2, but all I had was a $5 and $20. I hope I remember to go back with the $1.37 I owe the park.
The beach area was all mine. The only human being in sight was on a large mower. I parked and found the restrooms (checking the stalls for serial killers first). On the beach there was a blue heron who left upon my approach. I sat down on a log and began to write.
Shortly thereafter construction workers arrived and began making noise. I put on a Luscious Jackson cd to drown out the machinery. I know that it masks the serene noises of nature (and the possible footfalls of the aforementioned serial killer), but bulldozers have no place in nature.
From my spot here on the beach I can see for miles across the bay. Water towers dot the landscape in the distance. I can also see Havre de Grace and the bridges that cross the Susquehanna River (about 20 miles away). Yesterday (Sunday), there were people out boating everywhere. Today the bay is completely humanless, empty and peaceful. Damn! Too much coffee, I have to pee again (10:10am).
I drove to the visitors center and asked about trails. The woman told me about one across the road that looped a pond. I got my camera and started out. The weather was great for long sleeves and light overalls in the shade of the forest canopy. Judging from the spider webs clinging to my hair and face, I am the first person on the green trail today. I began to picture spiders spinning new webs atop my freshly shorn spiky hair. The trail was edged with gnarled mountain laurels. I came upon a slight valley filled with ferns and slender trees with large green leaves and fruits or nuts that looked like small mangos. Next I discovered a very dainty pool ("puddle" lacks the necessary verbal ambiance). As I approached it there was an eruption of tiny splashes as the wee frog citizens of the pool fled my presence. There was no one to break my sense of otherworldliness created by Dead Can Dance on my headphones, voluptuous mushrooms, lush ferns, weird trees, bright green mosses, and secretive frogs. It appears I am suffering no ill effects of the Blair Witch Syndrome.
I reached the end of the trail, which seemed to come out at the wrong place, and turned back. I arrived back at the fork in the trail and tried the left branch this time. The path was paved with pine needles and lacked the aura and mystery of the previous trail. I saw a large, fat bird take flight from a high branch. It might have been an owl, but I couldn't get a good look. I was still obsessing about my missing binoculars. There were lots of new bird songs coming from every direction.
I walked and thought about the problems between Carrie and I. I wish I had a easy, painless answer. I have needed a day by myself to think about everything.
By 11:40 I was hungry and thirsty. I had also grown hot from all the walking. I found my way back to the visitors' center. Looking at the map, I realized that the first trail I took wasn't even on the map. I had hiked for over an hour. My mind and body felt limber. I drove deeper into the park.
I had searched the green trail for deer. I found hoof prints, scat, and deer trails. Nothing. Out on the main road I found two spotted fawns grazing. Oh the irony.
12:15pm I hiked down a short, steep gully to a secluded beach. My thighs were tremulous from my previous hike. I found a huge beached tree to sit on and a small log to use as an ottoman. I decided to have lunch there. There are more boats out now. I guess I'm not the only one absent from work today. There are butterflies, birds of prey and herons flying nearby. I ate the noodles and tofu I made this morning and finished my water. There are tracks, probably from a raccoon, all around the tree I am sitting on. An eagle or hawk with a brown and white belly just flew past me.
I was relaxing, reading the new Musea, when I noticed the moving spots on my legs. I frantically rolled up my pants and saw swarms of tiny, tiny bugs and a few larger bugs I immediately identified as ticks. I began to rid myself of the tiny bugs, which may be ticks, or hopefully harmless mites. I also tried to eliminate a few freckles just to be on the safe side. My skin is crawling, but I am determined to enjoy my day off. I want to see sunset from here damnit!
I moved to Turkey Point thinking perhaps I had picked them up from the dead tree. I am trying to relax and write and draw. I keep feeling them crawling on me. I may need to go home and shower. (At this point I looked and found a bunch on my stomach. This meant they crawled up my overalls. They could be anywhere on me. Despite my macho resolve to watch the sunset, I completely wimped out and ran home.)
On my way out of the park I stopped at the visitors center. I asked if the park had a high incidence of lyme disease. They asked me to describe the ticks. They were unsure of the small tick-like creatures, but they were certain about the even smaller tick-like creatures - chiggers! The nice ranger (who might have been cute had I stopped scratching long enough to notice) showed me the chigger bites on her wrist. They told me to try the stuff used to get rid of lice. With my skin crawling all over the front seat of the mini-van, I left the park.
I found a drug store in North East and bought what they recommended. Once I got home I realized it was the wrong stuff. I splashed alcohol all over and took a hot soapy bath. (I later found out this was the exact right thing to do) I found the disgusting little bugs all over my body and a tick on my ass for good measure. This was not the way I wanted my vacation to end. All I wanted a day completely by myself so of course I ended up a host to hundreds of parasites!
Perhaps next time I'll vacation in a city. Getting mugged by a human being has got to be better than getting mugged by mother nature's littlest thugs.