Friday, November 14, 2008

Yellow Jackets

The other day I stuck my hand into a nest of yellow jackets. Not a smart thing to do, but I didn't know it was there. It was a cold day. I had decided to move an old Christmas tree that was in a box on the back porch. The artificial tree had been sitting there for a month or two, ever since I'd had a wild hare and cleaned up our storage room. Anything sitting outside in North Georgia is likely to house a critter or two. I knew that ~ so I was prepared for beetles or squirrels, or maybe even a little green snake or two. I pulled out the tree top and shook it. It was fine. Then I pulled out a couple of branches. That's when I saw the papery mess in the corner of the box. "Eee-ew-www, termites!" I thought. I reached deep down into the box for the next branch. Underneath there, it looked even worse than I'd thought. And something was moving around. I slapped the branch on the box to get rid of the bits of clinging paper. Now I noticed a bit of movement on the porch, something wiggling. "Kind of big for termites..." I bent to get a closer look. Yellow jackets! Simultaneously, I noticed one yellow jacket curled around the tip of my ring finger! Wow! I dropped that branch and hit the steps flying. The yellow jackets lay sluggish, but wriggling on the porch. They had been stunned by the cold, but startled by the intrusion into their cozy haven. Somehow, I had escaped with only one sting, and I didn't even feel that until later. I ran around the house and bounced into the front door. "Yellow jackets," I said, and told about my close call. We sneaked up the back stairs and looked out the window. Fully awake now, the wasps swarmed angrily around the back porch, seeking the predator that destroyed their nest ~ me! But I was safely inside. Only two days before, we had been on the tail end of a summer like warm spell. Had I moved the box that day... well, I shudder to think of it!

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