Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summertime Squatters

“Have you seen our new neighbors?” I said laying the mail on the buffet.
“There’s a house for sale in our neighborhood?” Mr. Wonderful said pouring a glass of water.
“Oh, they didn’t buy a house.”
“Are they renting?”

“Nope. They’re squatting.”


It’s Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Or at least that’s what Bess told Porgy; Clara told her baby; and tons of bands have told everyone via countless covers of that Gershwin tune. But with dear old summertime comes summertime squatters. You know the type: the ones that appear out of nowhere with stingers and wings. Yes, Virginia: the wasps.

In May, Harold sounded the alarm. I saw our 86 year-old neighbor walking around his house one careful step at a time.
“Did you lose something, Harold?”
“My peace of mind.”
“I’ll let you know when if I find it,” I said.
“Very funny.”
“Hey, I saw a piece by your lemon tree.”
“Less funny.”
“How about: you have a mind?” He gave me a disparaging look. “Where’s your sense of humor?”
“When wasps make nests on the outside of my house, I don’t joke around.”
“Wasps have to live somewhere. And didn’t we build our houses in their territory?”
“You’ll see,” he said shuffling around the garage to continue his wasp nest inspection.

In June, his 85 year-old spouse appeared holding a broom aloft with the bristles brushing the eaves of their house.
“You’re a thorough cleaner, Norma.”
“It’s the only way to get rid of the freeloaders.”
“Harold?”
“No dear. The wasps. They build their nests in the tiniest nooks and crannies.”
“But they have to build their nests somewhere.”
“Sure. On someone else’s house,” she said returning to her aerial sweeping. “You should check your own house.”

In July, I parked the car in our driveway and a wasp buzzed past my head. It was even with my eye line and I saw its bugged out eyes and rapid wings. Sometimes nature is beautiful and sometimes it’s… downright scary looking. I watched the wasp gain height to the roof of our house and enter a wasp nest hanging from one of the eaves.
“Welcome home, Mr. Wasp,” I said in a non-threatening, neighborly way. Both we and Nature need to live together. Just then a second wasp buzzed by on its way to the nest so I gently waved my arm to carefully steer it toward the nest when BAM! The wasp stung me! Right in the hand! Then BA-BAM! It stung me again! On the arm!

Unlike bees who die when they sting you, one wasp can sting you multiple times. I know, from personal experience.
“Better you than me,” Mr. Wonderful said as he laid bags of frozen blueberries on my swollen hand and arm.
“I love your sympathy.”
“It’s just, I’m allergic to wasps.”
What?!

Ten minutes later I grabbed the broom, swept away the wasp nest and deposited it into the greens bin. I didn’t mind getting stung and I still believe we and Nature need to coexist. But with Mr. Wonderful just one wasp sting away from an Emergency Room visit, the wasps can live on someone else’s house.

You’ll see.

Summertime and the liven' is wasp free...