Yesterday at work, a Jamaican worker approached me in one of the greenhouse rows as I was scouting peppers for pests and disease. Trying to ask casually, but coming across rather urgent, he asked, did I know if anyone had died at the greenhouse? Being new, I explained I hadn't heard of any deaths occurring here. He explained that he asks the question because of something that happened that morning. At 2am, he felt a presence behind him on the stairway leading from the rooms where the seasonal workers reside to the main floor of the plant where the washrooms and offices are located. Footsteps heard in the stairwell not belonging to himself and on the main floor, a figure that he dare not approach. Implicated, I inquired with one of my colleagues as to whether anyone had ever died at the plant. The answer revealed a mystery: no deaths are known but a year prior, some of the Taiwanese workers spoke of a spirit that dwells in the residences. During their stay, the men wear pink nail polish on their fingers to ward off this spirit. According to them, it takes men in their sleep. The nail polish fools the spirit into thinking they are female. The spirit, they say, has the body of a woman; her head that of a horse.
At 11:00am this morning, these thoughts stirred in my mind as I waited in the dentist chair to have a wisdom tooth removed. After questions about the successfulness of the antibiotics taken before extraction and light banter about the weather to comfort the patient, the dentist commences the procedure by applying a local anesthetic to the area around the wisdom tooth set to be removed. A pause of 2 minutes post-application. This ensures that the patient does not feel any pain during the removal. The dentist, in a calm voice, guides the patient through each step of the procedure, reiterating that it is important to indicate if any pain or discomfort is felt at any time. Once the local anesthetic has numbed the region, the dentist uses a scalpel to slice open and remove the gum around the wisdom tooth. The dental assistant inserts a dental dry vacuum to drain out the blood that has pooled at the back of the mouth. The next step is to insert a tool called an elevator, which is wedged between the tooth's ligament space and the surrounding bone. Once the tooth is pried and elevated, the dentist uses extraction forceps to rock the tooth back and forth in its socket. A short break is taken to wipe a bead of sweat from the brow and the dental assistant once again drains blood from the back of the mouth using the dental vacuum. The tooth is now twisted to tear the ligament attaching it to the bone. Once the socket is large enough, the ligament is snapped and the tooth comes free. The dentist removes it from the mouth. The blood leaking from the empty socket is sucked out with the dental vacuum before a wad of gauze is inserted gently into the area. This ensures the formation of a blood clot that will prevent continued bleeding from the wound. The dentist finalizes the procedure with a list of instructions to hasten the healing process. The patient pays the bill and leaves the office with a wad of bloody gauze at the back of the mouth, to be replaced every 15 minutes with a fresh section until bleeding has stopped. Rest is recommended for the duration of the day, and no solid foods for 24 hours.
At 2:53pm, my iPhone sounds out the alert that I have received a new message on Facebook. The gate attendant at Point Pelee N.P. has received a report from a local birder that a Eurasian Wigeon has just been found in the marsh southeast of the park gates (spotted by Richard Carr). The miniature devil Jeremy and the miniature angel Jeremy *poof* into existence on either shoulder. Devil Jeremy: "Awwww come onnnnn....It's just a short drive. Besides, your tooth is practically healed already!" Angel Jeremy: "I have a bad feeling about this...what if you hit a pothole and the blood clot pops loose from the wound. You could risk getting dry socket." DJ: "Dry socket, shmy shmocket. It's a Eurasian Wigeon! You need it for your year list." AJ: "Your health is more important than a silly year list. Rest! Drink some soup! Besides, you already have Eurasian Wigeon for your Pelee list." DJ: "Don't listen to that ignoramus...remember when he tried to convince you to go to conversion therapy?" I nodded, swallowed 2 extra strengths, and rushed (gingerly) out the door. My search began at the Sanctuary marsh pull-off. I scanned a large raft of ducks at the north end of the pond. There was a good number of American Wigeon but I couldn't pick out anything with a buffy forehead and rufous head. Seconds edged towards minutes, minutes became an hour. I was getting cold. I cautiously moved my tongue toward the gaping hole at the back of my palate. I prodded its edge and tasted blood. R. Carr eventually showed up and searched with me to no avail. He suggested we check along Concession E where ducks have been gathering in good numbers this week. I knew I had to give up soon. Rest and soup were seducing my departure. However, one last stop later as we scanned the Onion Fields, I picked out a buffy forehead and a rufous head. In that moment, a great comfort fell over me like a warm blanket.