Posted by joeabbott on July 24, 2012
My mother recently visited from MN and we spent a week tromping about the Seattle area, never really going that far afield but seeing many wonderful things. In the course of the journey, we found an excuse to procure a bit more SITBY: Stuff in the Backyard. The pieces to the right require a bit of explanation.
Early in the trip, my mother and I were taking pictures around the backyard. She espying a lovely view and directing a shot, me making pains to ensure I captured her vision in digital ink. We started on the deck, snapping pictures of the shed and our droopy Siberian pine, panned to the trellis teeming with many eager vines, moving up a stone pathway, to the chicken coop, across to the gate and little bridge, and finally to a dry streambed meandering back toward the deck.
I shot with the camera high and low, I zoomed in and out, I changed the camera settings to capture just the right feel of what she was seeing. My mother was effusive in her praise for the flowered glory of our little backyard sanctuary and I was endeavoring to capture that same vision to evoke a similar praise from others.
While squatting low to get a cat’s eye-level view of the streambed, I felt a few pricks about my ankles. Thinking it a nettle or prick from a spikey grass, I persisted in my concentration … this would be a perfect picture. Then the pricking became a stinging heat and I noticed bees swarming about me. Somewhat belatedly, I remembered Suzy mentioning her find of a colony of ground bees in this part of the garden. Knowing bees hate panic and fear, I did my level-headed best to avoid injuring myself as I flailed my arms wildly, spun madly and slapped myself a bit, and sprinted to the house in a frenzied, fear-fueled, pain-motivated screaming spasm.
In the house, behind a closed screen, I slapped a single, persistent bee to the floor and stomped him lifeless. And, bemusedly watched my mother stroll calmly in from the backyard and ask if everything was alright. It was quite fortunate she wasn’t stung!
While I proclaimed to have been stung around 8-10 times, I could only find about 4 marks: one on my right shoulder, one on the inside of my left knee, another behind my right knee, and then a heck of a sting above my left ankle. I was a little deflated to have run so manically for what appeared to be such minor trauma. But over the next few days, another tale unfolded.
While my shoulder and knee injuries were minor, single stings, the damage to my left ankle could only have been the work of many stings in concert. The ankle swelled up until all trace of ankle bones were hidden, the background color of the skim took on a yellow-brown sickening hue, and around 6-8 prick marks and along the entirety of an old surgical scar, a bloody red color angrily welled up.
I didn’t lose mobility (although I must have twisted my foot running, as my foot was incredibly sore and bruised beneath the ankle, away from the stings) and it didn’t hurt but it was itchy. I wanted nothing more than to just keep scratching it. Over the next few days we applied plenty of anti-itch, topical ointments, but it really just needed time, as all salves merely bought me a few tens of minutes of relief before the itching sensations returned.
But, we persevered in enjoying our vacation week off and, on Saturday, at the Sequim Lavender Festival, we bought a pair of fat, metal bumble bees to place into the garden.
Appropriately enough, we set them upon a block of granite beside the path I ran past screaming and behind a bush of our own lavender that is now in bloom and very busy with bees.
I don’t hold any grudge against the bees: they’re beneficial to the garden and simply doing what bees do when I was stung. But I will be watching my moves in the future as I navigate our garden, enjoying the many views, knowing that I’m sharing this space.
And I’m happy to have shared this story with you. I hope your day is sting-free!