Forget about Nature’s “fang and claw.” There’s another part of Her anatomy to watch out for. Yep. It’s the stingers that’ll get you.
We found out the hard way recently that W.A.S.P. has nothing to do with population demographics and everything to do with “Run for your life!”
Our recent education in Nature’s Fury began with Dad’s decision it was time to clear brush and weeds from in front of his workshop. Recent rains sent New Mexico weeds into hyper-mode, so it was time to clear the jungle.
Dad says he always knew in his bones when he was a boy there was a reason he whined against his Sergeant Major Mom’s demand that he do yard work. He just didn’t know then what that vital reason was.
He knows that reason now. WASPS.
Dude! These flying bombers carry napalm!
Turns out, our weeds and saplings weren’t our problem. It was getting to them that was hazardous to health. You see, unknown to us, wasps had a new nest about head-high on the outside of the exit door out of our compound. So getting to the weeds meant a surprise close encounter for Dad with kamikaze wasps whose butts are on fire and who lack all sense of humor.
Rains swelled the heavy wooden door/gate in its frame, so it took hefty persuasion to jerk the big door open. And that disturbance put the wasps in a foul mood on the other side of that door.
No sooner did Dad start through the door, armed with his big lopers and hedge trimmers, than one of those kamikaze bombers hit him upside his head, diving onto Dad’s ear with a load of hot-damn wasp napalm.
I’ve never seen Dad move that fast. He was Bo Jangles on fire, jigging and swatting his own head like he was possessed and hollering things about Mama dogs and offspring! It wasn’t funny, but I wish I could have videoed it for Dancing with the Stars. He made Michael Jackson look like he had arthritis and two left feet!
By Noon the next day Dad had a major Buddha ear: swollen lobe big as Texas and itchy as a chigger bite. Dad said if another wasp had popped his other ear he’d now be an Enlightened One, with bigger than life Buddha ears to prove it.
But our unsolicited Buddha ear actually got worse. As if the napalm to the ear weren’t enough, we discovered Nature has not only ‘fury’ but a really bent sense of humor. No sooner did Dad get the fire under control on his ear when a small flying dervish buzzed right into his ear canal. Of course, it was the same inflamed Buddha ear. The retarded bug could not read the “Exit Only” sign inside Dad’s head, got disoriented, and instead of backing out, he buzzed on down. Yep. INTO the ear canal, not out.
Dad says he could hear the buzzy intruder moving things inside his head, but he couldn’t dislodge him. Big farmer fingers only pushed the critter in. We were out of Q-tips at home, so Dad resorted to thump-it-loose extraction. He bent sideways, keeping a wary eye out for opportunist wasps ready to “Seize the moment” and his other ear, and thumped the opposite side of his head with sharp blows in hopes of knocking the intruder out of his ear. The thumping DID finally knock the bug out, but not before some drain bamage.
Poor Dad. He was nursing his wasp stings, feeling sorry for himself over his outsize ear and interloper buzz invasion, wanting some sympathy, but the donkeys threw him a glance that said, “I’ve seen bigger. Mine are longer.” But then they took another look and said, “Yikes! Our ears aren’t longer by much. Go rest that Buddha ear under a Banyon Tree. You’re wigging us out.”
So this canny Scot is here to tell you yard work is no picnic and there’s another side to Nature besides fluffy lambs and songbirds. There’s napalm bomb dropping wasps you don’t want to mess with and buzzy things who think your ear hole is entrance to a gold mine. It was days before Dad’s ear ceased stopping traffic and the donkeys could reclaim bragging rights over big ears.
We learned valuable lessons. Wasps teach you things you don’t forget. Dad won’t ever pass up a display of Q-tips at the market again and he now has an epitaph for his headstone: “I was right, Mom. Yard work IS hazardous to your health.”
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine