I like bees. Me and bees have always gotten along just fine. When I was a kid I used to like to pick them up and let them crawl around on me, just to show what misunderstood creatures they really are. Even wasps, to a lesser degree. I am less likely to trust a wasp, probably because they can sting without any cost to themselves and they tend to get aggressive in the Fall, but by and large I have a live-and-let-live approach to our wasp friends. I remember when I was nine or ten, we lived in this house that had huge wasps’ nest under the eaves and all along one fence. I used to get right up next to them and peer into the teeming industry inside, so close that the wasps would land on my cheek before crawling into the nest. On the very few occasions when I’ve actually been stung, it was always because I’d accidentally stepped on one barefoot, or unintentionally disturbed a nest or some such. And the sting itself has never been a big deal — a little bump, some relatively minor pain, and then some itching, and then gone by the next day.
So yesterday I was sorting some trash into piles out behind one of the sheds, when for no apparent reason a wasp flew over and stung the everloving bajeebers out of my upper lip, just under my nose. Multiple times in rapid succession. I’m not sure how many times, because there are only two holes, but one is much bigger than the other as if that spot got hit several times. Anyway. The immediate pain was freaking unbelievable. I stumbled into the house, eyes streaming, clawed through Luke’s first aid kit for a packet of insect sting relief, and frantically applied it to my already-swelling lip. As far as I could tell it had no effect at all. I switched to a baking soda paste. No relief, and by now my whole upper lip was about four times its normal size. I’d heard that vinegar is supposed to help stings, so I dabbed some of that on. I think that may have actually made the burning worse. Now my cheeks were starting to swell. I called my friend Julie, and she said I should take some Benadryl, which I didn’t have any of in the house. I considered driving into town for some, but by now my face was pretty much balloon-shaped and I didn’t want to frighten any small children. Or risk having my eyes swell shut in mid-trip.
So I gritted my teeth and called Steve, whose parents’ house is practically an entire well-stocked pharmacy unto itself, and asked him if he could bring me some Benadryl. He drove some down as far as my back gate, and Elizabeth ran up and fetched it from there. I’m beginning to find his refusal to set tire on my property genuinely amusing…but I digress. I popped a Benadryl with all due gratitude, and popped a second one half an hour later when things didn’t seem to be improving, and then at 7:55pm I told the kids to put themselves to bed and stumbled off to a drug-induced loss of consciousness.
I woke up at three-something this morning, still looking a bit like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man, but the swelling was definitely going down. Whew!
I’d planned to take a load of scrap metal to the recyclers today, but I wasn’t really fit for public consumption yet, so I decided to take a break from the whole cleaning project and do some work in the garden. It felt really good to be puttering around in the cool, damp soil again, and before I knew it I’d turned over several spent beds and planted my fall crops. I am very happy about that, because this is only the second year I’ve ever managed to put in a fall garden, and the first year I’ve actually put one in the ground instead of containers.
By the time all that was done my face was looking almost normal; not good enough for actually interacting with people, but human enough to make a couple of runs to the dump.
With Steve gone, these trips to the dump always tickle my sense of the absurd. I drive a teensy toy Saturn, and when I’m hauling out large-ish pieces of scrap lumber and such I fold the back seats down to make the teensy toy trunk a little bigger. I’ve gotten rather good at arranging the variously-shaped pieces with Tetris-like precision to eliminate wasted space and squeeze in as much crap as possible, but there’s always this mildly sardonic voice in my ear pointing out that no matter how efficiently I pack it, it’s rather like a chipmunk with his cheeks crammed full of seeds. Sure, it LOOKS impressive…but it’s still just a mouthful of seeds. The two loads I hauled to the dump today, combined, would have filled maybe one fourth of Steve’s truck bed.
Today this task was complicated by my involuntary and uncharacteristic flinching every time a wasp flew too near. There are a lot of them around this time of year, and for the first time I was watching them with wary suspicion instead of friendly benevolence. I think we are no longer simpatico, the wasps and I. I think I will be picking up a few wasp traps on my next trip to Temecula.
Next thing you know the BUNNIES will be attacking!