Saturday, November 8, 2008

CYBI, The George Hamilton of Saints

Happily it is the feast of Saint Cybi, the only saint known for his tan. Happily, because we needed to take a break from our household’s unfortunate preoccupation with microscopic parasites this week.
Last week it was ticks, which are larger. An evening was spent watching my brother, Carl pick deer ticks from Oliver, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel of a very agreeable disposition. Carl, who is so clean he has been known to wash your plate while you are eating from it, and who drives a six year-old car that is as pristine as they day he pulled out of the lot, and whose basement floor is truly that proverbial “so clean you could eat off it” – this same Carl was removing ticks from his beloved (and otherwise very clean) dog with the tweezers component of his also beloved Swiss Army knife. In case you have not had the pleasure, any occasion of tick removal in the company of one’s siblings gives rise to fond memories of all the various methods of tick slaughter, destruction, and eradication in our shared youth. These include – but are not limited to – conflagration, crushing, explosion, implosion, truncation, decapitation and dismemberment.
Watching the deticking I secretly congratulated myself for not having brought along my dogs, who would surely have attracted far more ticks than tiny Oliver.
Premature congratulations as it happens. For this week Daisy was diagnosed with mange. Mange is just as it sounds: rather revolting and of course, mangy. Otherwise, mange is an infestation by parasitic microscopic mange mites. You will be pleased to know that Daisy’s mange is not infectious; at least, neither Bruno nor we have caught it. I am treating it with a propolis-based cream called Hoof Balm, developed by an upstate beekeeper to treat his miniature horse. We describe the situation thusly: Daisy is not herself. Causing me to think about what it means to be oneself.
Which brings us to Saint Cybi, a sixth century Welsh abbot for whom I harbor a special fondness because my friend B and I trod in Cybi’s footsteps on the lovely isle of Anglesey. Cybi’s best friend was Saint Seriol who lived at the opposite end of Anglesey. Each morning the two friends set off from their respective hermitages and met mid-island to converse until dusk. Cybi lived on the western end of the island and so he walked into the morning sun - hence the tan for which he became famous. How does it compare to George Hamilton’s tan? We will never know. Meanwhile, poor Saint Seriol was chronically pale and wan.

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