So now you know one of my secrets.
A few years ago, when we lived in a cabin in an Ontario forest, four of us were sitting around a picnic table. It was a gorgeous day. Earlier, we’d been down at the boathouse working on a new dock. The old dock had been destroyed by much incoming lake ice. A present from Spring.
Anyway, while we were imbibing, whistling Dixie, conversing and minding our P’s and Q’s, who should approach us but a raccoon. The raccoon was walking across flat ground, but she or he was staggering, tripping, and falling down. He then tried to go down the wooden stairs which lead to the boat house. The poor little creature was falling all over the place.
We could see that the raccoon was very sick. Might have rabies. We didn’t know, so the first thing we did was try phoning the government folks who look after this kind of thing. You guessed it. We were to leave a message and they’d return the call. So, what to do?
I mean, how long was the raccoon going to stagger around on our grass while we waited for a call back? So, we grabbed a rifle and looked after the problem ourselves. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to do but we saw no alternative.
I once chatted with a government official about coming out to take a look at our river in Cape Breton. He said he would be pleased to do that. He gave me his card and told me to phone him.
I took his card. I did phone him. The dreaded answering machine came on. It told me that no-one was available to answer the phone but if I left a message somebody would get back to me within twenty-four hours. I left a message for the man.
That was nearly a year ago. I still have heard nothing.
Oh, I can go on and I will, with one more example. I once phoned a government department. My problem was they weren't deducting money from my cheque despite the clear letter I had mailed requesting them to do so. I worried that not having the deductions made would mean I would get hit hard at tax time.
I phoned. I got the machine. I listened to elevator music for close to twenty minutes. I was in a phone booth. I waited and waited and waited. Every once in a while I would get a recording that nobody was available but there would be somebody on the phone shortly.
Finally! Finally, a lady answered. I explained about the form I had sent them. I explained that they weren’t taking money out of the cheque. She listened. I told her that I had indicated on the form that I had wanted them to take money out. She listened and when I was finished do you know what she said?
“Do you want us to take the money out of your cheque?”
Sugar is sweet, and so are you
The roses have wilted, the violets are dead,
The sugar bowl's empty, and so is your head
The roses stink, sorta like sheep
But leave your name, number, and message after the beep
The roses are molding, the violets are rotten
And I might call you back if I haven’t forgotten...
One: I read somewhere that a yellow jacket will fly around, presumably sniffing the air, looking for food and drink. In many cases my food and my drink.
Anyway, what usually happens is that the hornet finds my beer or peanut butter sandwich and then it buzzes off. I’ve heard that’s because most yellow jackets are of the Christian persuasion. They like to share.
So what I think they do and what I think I heard they do is they buzz off to their nest or home or wherever they live and they report their findings and then they return with some comrades.
I have kind of relied on that theory so that I don’t worry when I see the first yellow jacket.
Two: If you don’t get all sweaty and fearful and start batting your arms all around when the first yellow jacket or two make their approach then you’re likely not going to get stung. I have sat still and watched, with some trepidation, hornets land on my hand, clothes, etc. If I don’t go wacky scared then the little fella doesn’t usually sting.
I base this theory on personal experience and on my belief that I don’t think most hornets land on me carrying any personal grudges towards me, or towards the human race in general. Maybe they should, but I don’t think they do.
I don’t think they have any tip lines either for humans they land on who might wear funny clothes or have weird or different philosophies or religion. So I think I’m safe.
I will tell you one thing, though. When they do sting, it hurts. Their sting is much more painful than a honey bee or a bumble bee sting. And those poor little buggers die after they sting. Apparently their little stingers are torn out of somewhere around their poor little snozzles and they kick the bucket. I try to prevent them from stinging me for their own good.
Three: I’ve heard stories of times when a person has not seen a bee or hornet swimming in their drinks and then disaster strikes. A man in Ontario swallowed a hornet named Jonah, when he was drinking his whatever, and died not long after. So, I always keep an eye on my drinks.
Two weeks ago, when I was in the woodshed having a beer, I went into the house and then returned, which I do from time to time. When I got back there was my drink and there was a yellow jacket swimming in the beer. I was grateful that I saw him, because it immediately reminded me of the sad story I just told you.
Anyway, I picked a twig up from the floor. I did not sterilize it, in case you are wondering so I hope nobody non-sterilized-object shames me and yes I might have been a bit sweaty because I had been splitting some wood, so I was open to sweat shaming. Oh my god, stop me here, because I can’t believe some of this stuff.
Okay, so I put the dirty stick in my drink and used it as a life raft. The hornet crawled onto my unsterilized life raft and I carried him to safety. I deposited him on a blade of grass and I can tell you, that little fella couldn’t fly or stand up straight. He was blotto blotto. I wonder if they get hangovers?
But, what I learned this particular day was that they do get drunk.
And I learned something else last week when another yellow jacket landed on the lip of my glass. And when I sat and watched him until he fell in. And when I put another unsterilized stick into the beer and let him climb aboard. And that was how inebriated he or she was. He had only been in the beer for about ten or twenty seconds.
So what I learned is that yellow jackets can’t hold their liquor. So they are not to be feared.