THE EIGHTIES
By Betty J. Sayles

My son was a career Air Force man and while visiting me in northern Wisconsin, he saw 80 acres of woods, swamp and beaver dam that he loved on sight and wanted for a summer home when he retired.  There was a vintage house trailer on a large clearing near the road, and with water, bottle gas cooking stove and an outhouse, he could stay there, comfortably enough, during summer visits.  With two days left before he was due to leave for his next station overseas, he completed the transaction and owned the land. He left the key to the trailer with me.

I made numerous trips to the “80” that summer. I learned my way about the woods, and while sitting on the bank of the beaver pond watching for beavers, enjoyed dozens of jewel colored dragonflies darting about. I never saw a beaver, but saw a stump and freshly gnawed wood chips.

Under the steps of the trailer lived a nest of bumblebees. I often sat on the steps, basking in the sun, and the bumblebees entered and left their home with no apparent concern or malice towards me. I enjoyed watching them. On the opposite side of the trailer was a pump with deliciously cold water. After a warm walk in the woods, that pump would be my first stop.  Unfortunately, some yellow jackets also liked it and made their nest in its spout.

I suppose there’s no parallel between the bumblebees and the yellow jackets because one lived side by side with me and we didn’t interfere with each other. In the case of the yellow jackets, we both wanted the same spot and that can do dire things to a “Live and Let Live” philosophy. It has, also, been my observation that bumblebees have a placid nature while yellow jackets come at you like a “Spitfire” at war, at least, when you dislodge their nest with a gush of water.

We waged war for a month or more.  I still don’t know how I came through unscathed, I was threatened often enough, but it’s amazing how fast a human can move when the adrenaline is at its peak and he’s fighting for something he considers belongs to him.  My offense was always the same; I’d give a mighty pump on the handle, and dash for the back door that was only 10 feet away. I’d look through the window and there he’d be glaring at me inches from my face [I swear it was the same one every time, he hated me].

With the nest dislodged, the yellow jackets would hover about for 10 minutes, or so, and then leave, and it would be safe to go out and pump “my” water.

With a week usually elapsing between my visits, the yellow jackets always had a new nest built in the pump spout. Then, one day, I made the dash for nothing, the enemy had departed. I was surprised to find that I was disappointed; after all, my old enemy had been a worthy adversary and our encounters had been exciting. I wondered if they would be back the next summer.

About the Author:

Betty J. Sayles is a retired librarian who has been writing most of her life, but only tried for publication a few years ago. She loves to read, everything from Poe’s Raven to Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. She walks in the woods and writes a poem about it. And she writes about feelings, good and bad.

She has had short stories and poems published in Storyteller, Creative With Words, The Oak, Nomad’s Choir, Ultimate Writer, Persimmon’s Tree, Spontaneous Spirits, PKA Advocate, Amulet, Mystical Muse, LOS, CC&D, The Enchanted File Cabinet, Conceit, Shemom, Pink Chameleon, PBW, Down in the Dirt, The Weekly Advocet, Van Gogh’s Ear, Yellow Mama, Song of the San Joaquin, Better Than Starbucks, Pennine Ink and Stray Branch.

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