Sting, stung or stang … I still don’t like yellow jackets

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People who are supposed to know say this will be a bad (bad for us, good for them) year for yellow jackets. I hope not.

Taking no chances, every afternoon I recon our back yard, like a U2 searching for atomic bomb sites, watching very carefully looking for the little yellow and black devils coming like a guided missile out of their underground silo.

I’ve been down this trail before. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Last year, I was walking in the back 40 , not bothering a soul, when, blap! One hit the lower tip of my ear lobe. Hurt like you wouldn’t believe. I’d think the pain was going away, but then like a sea wave it’ come rolling back again.

But I was lucky in one way: I saw the hole whence my enemy had come.

So, when all good yellow jackets had hung up their guns for the night and had settled down for a good night’s rest, I sneaked back down there with a can of Raid. And I saturated everything around the hole and in it. I made it “Radio-active” for months to come. Don’t talk to me about everything having a place in the world, etc. Not in my back yard they don’t.

Then there’s the chestnut log story, one of the epic family stories to be passed down from generation to generation.

I am one of the very few people who remembers chestnut trees. Yes, before the disease or blight or whatever killed them all, there were five on our place. Chestnut trees were renowned for their wood that was good for about everything, including fence posts. There was the long dead trunk of one over on the Chandler place. Daddy wanted us, my brother and me, to drag it to the house where it could be sawed into the proper lengths.

So we hitched up the mules and got a chain and went over there to do the job.

To get to the old log, we had to go through an old pasture fence gate. And smack in the middle of that gateway was a yellow jacket nest.

We made it through OK, ready to go on about our business. But … Jack had dropped the axe we needed right on top of the nest. By now, the yellow jackets were fully aroused. I tried to use my rank as the elder child to make him go back and get it. Nope. He wouldn’t budge. I called him things, questioned his ancestry, begged. But no.

So, I went back. The yellow jackets had fun with me. They stang (what you think, Gillis? Think it’ll fly? I will sting it. I have stung, I stang …?) me in every spot that could be reached. After a while, it doesn’t get worse, it’s as bad as it can be.

So, as I die, I thought, I’ll fix you. I carefully, methodically, pushed dirt into their hoe with my Star Brand plow shoes from Dave Fine’s store, and packed it and packed it.

Take that, you miserable little so-and-so’s, except I didn’t exactly call them that.

They obviously didn’t kill me, but they made a lifelong enemy.

By the way, not being one to hold a grudge, I started speaking to Jack again last year.

Bob Sanders is a veteran local radio personality, columnist, author and raconteur of note.

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