14 July 2008

Nothing Is Quite As Exhilarating

As being chased around the garden by a tarantula hawk. I must resemble the biggest tarantula ever seen, or perhaps this insect just wants to dance with me. I'm not sure.

A tarantula hawk is a wasp, a very large wasp. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a hummingbird buzzing along about 10 feet above the ground.

When I finally figured out what they were, I became concerned. Nothing like a little knowledge to wreck your day.

Wasps and spiders have a unique relationship, and if you ever need to stay up in the wee, wee hours, I recommend finding a good picture book on the subject.

Yellow jacket wasps have stung me twice: once when I was 5 and again about 10 years ago. Being an adult did not make me scream any quieter.

This is an experience to avoid at all costs.

So I give to you a small nugget of free advice: Never stay at a campground called Yellow Jacket Camp.

"Gee, honey," I said. "Isn't this great! We have the whole campground to ourselves."

And then we fried up a steak, and 500 of our closest neighbors invited themselves over for dinner.

He said, "I read somewhere that all you have to do to get rid of them is put a little piece of meat downwind, and they'll leave you alone."

Moments later, reinforcements showed up.

We swatted a few like we meant business. That's fine, the yellow jacket swarm might have replied. They eat their dead, too.

So into the tent I went, zipped up tight for the remainder of our short visit to the memorable Yellow Jacket Camp.

I accept wasps as a part of the package here in North County, even though they scare me. Just like I accept the threat of fire here in the middle of summer when everything looks like a tinderbox.

I'll tell you though, nothing makes my knees shake like spotting a smoke plume in close proximity. Nothing.

Last week, for example, my man called me at work to tell me not to be concerned when I see the cloud of smoke.

"The fire is south of us," he said calmly. "I just wanted to let you know so you wouldn't worry."

So zooming home, I rounded the first bend exposing the big sky to the south, and there it was.

This was no puff of smoke. This was huge.

Don't worry, I told myself. He told me not to worry. But, I thought, that was half an hour ago. It could have spread. So now I'm zoom-zooming down the road.

And the closer I get, the more ominous it looks.

At twilight, the cloud enveloped the sky above our home. It was miles away and right next to us at the same time.

I don't know how it started. I have no details at all. But I do have a suggestion. A lot of fires are started by carelessness. A cigarette thrown from a vehicle, an unattended barbecue or an unscreened fireplace or the clearing of dead weeds in the middle of the day, and a spark occurs.

Nobody wants to deal with a fire, so let's be careful and save our excitement for an event that really matters when it is sweltering.

That's right, the Fair opens soon. See you there.

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Thanks for sharing!