Sweden Day 3

The USB internet stick, which surprised me yesterday by working flawlessly with my Linux PC, gets recognized as a CD. Neither unplugging and replugging it a few times nor the time-honored tradition of restarting the PC fix the problem, so I trawl the stick’s contents to try to manually install it somehow. I manage to run into a wide variety of different errors, unearth some files it put onto my PC yesterday, and finally just delete them in a fit of impatience, which finally works.

It’s almost noon by the time I’m done browsing, and a lot warmer and sunnier than yesterday. D is out for a walk. All in all a perfect opportunity to try to wash my hair despite the lack of hot water – if I start shivering too hard to hold the shower head, I can just quit, flee outside stark naked and hang out on the hot planks in the sun until I’ve stopped again.

The task turns out to be less unpleasant than expected: I squat and hang my head forward as far as possible to minimize the amount of skin subjected to the cold stream, shampoo twice, and even get courageous enough to run a soapy washcloth over the rest of my body. Rinsing off finally makes my teeth chatter, especially when the icy water hits my neck, shoulders and chest, and as soon as there are no obvious missed spots I flee.

After toweling off briefly, I put on some clean pants and then go sit in the sun with a book while I brush my hair and finish drying. I’m starting to get used to the quiet and the surroundings, I think – now the occasional passing car makes me look up, and my wandering eyes find purchase on the birch leaves twisting and glinting in the wind and sun.

In the afternoon, I venture outside for a walk in the woods nearby. Stretching my legs feels good, and so does listening to music – I haven’t really gotten to do either in the past two days, and I notice only now how much I missed it.

Blueberries line the narrow, root-crossed path before me. Few of them are ripe yet, but my fingertips are soon stained by some that are. (A friend’s father would warn of fox tapeworm now, and an ex of zoonoses in general, but I haven’t died yet and think I’ll take my chances once again.) Tall, coniferous trees rise all around me, interspersed with a few birches and in a few places what I think might be hazel bushes – I’m not sure, though, and I can’t find any evidence on the forest floor, although I suppose squirrels and other critters might have gotten all of it. Walks like this always make me wish I knew more plants and animals by name, but rarely enough to look them up when I’m back home or study some in advance.

The shower before and the movement now seem to be putting something right that has been slightly off, renewing a connection to my body that had gotten lost somehow, and through my body also to the external world: the impact of my feet on the forest path, the smell of tree sap permeating the air, the brush of blueberries against my bare legs. I slow down when a startled thrush races away across the path and avert my gaze to give it enough time and calm to make its escape without expending valuable energy lifting off.

I visit the meadow with the deer stand M (then C) used for a hideout last year. There’s a new sign hanging on top of the ladder – it’s in Swedish, but I’m pretty sure it says something about being cautious and climbing it at one’s own risk. I decide blueberries are enough risk for me and move on after a brief inspection of the raspberry bushes around the base: no red berries here this time, either. Seems I’m here too early this year.

When I feel like I’ve sweated enough to render the shower moot (although my hair is still much cleaner than before), I return to the house and promptly discover a blind passenger: there’s a small black dot just below my right knee, and it has legs.

D is working out on the porch, and at first I don’t want to disturb him to ask for the tick tong he talked about bringing, but then the prospect of catching borreliosis and having to somehow figure out how to get medical help here makes me antsy enough to do so anyway. Turns out I could have saved the effort: he forgot the tick tong.

I look up ways to remove ticks – preferably ones that don’t suggest covering them in substances that kill them, making them vomit all their bacteria into the bite in death – and find instructions to cautiously slide a credit card beneath the tick repeatedly to make it let go of its own volition.

It takes a while. I use a second card to gently hold the tick against the first one (the instructions suggest a finger, but my fingers are very big compared to the tiny bug, and I can’t see what I’m doing well enough to trust that method) and pester it until it disentangles itself and starts a mad dash across my skin.
I use the card to catch it, observe it for a moment, and then fling it away into the grass. Hopefully it will find a different meal. (Instead of, say, just climbing onto me again next time I wander through the yard.)
“I would have crushed it”, D comments and calls me soft-hearted. I point out that it’s not the tick’s fault it carries such dangerous bacteria and I would hardly have missed the few drops of blood it would have taken.

Then I put some hand sanitizer onto the bite for lack of disinfectant and go back inside in front of my PC (where there are no ticks or tapeworms to catch), and later on we watch Butterfly Effect, which is much sillier than I remembered. Or maybe I’m just spoiled by movies and shows with non-stilted dialogue and strong characterizations.


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