We are enjoying a nice bit of respite in the dog days of summer with highs in the low 80's. The windows have been open again for the first time in weeks and the chugging of the air conditioner has silenced, even if only briefly. We have lots of interesting sounds out here in the country surrounded by woods. As we were getting the kids ready for bed the other night, Dear Daughter asked me with great concern in her voice, "Mommy, WHAT is that noise I hear outside?" I listened and tried to hear what she heard, but I felt like I was missing something. "What's it sound like?" I asked her. "Don't you hear it? It's going 'waaaaa-aaaaaa, waaaaaa-aaaaa, waaaaa-aaaaa' and it sounds REALLY creepy!" I listened again before it dawned on me what she heard outside.
We don't hear traffic outside our home. We don't hear people outside our home. We don't hear the hustle bustle of modern civilization. We DO hear owls hooting and coyotes calling at night, the wind swishing through the trees, tree frogs and bull frogs and every other frog variety singing and chirping and grunting their little hearts out. There's one particular variety of frog that sounds a lot like a wild turkey. And in the summer time we do hear something deafening outside our home. Something as loud as city traffic in the backyard. We hear BUGS! Lots and lots of bugs! They drone on and on in their sing songy voices much like the way Dear Daughter imitated them. I knew then what she was talking about, because I noticed it, too, earlier that evening when I opened the door to let the dog out. In fact, I felt literally assaulted by the bug noise that seemed to literally scream at high decibels.
I pondered for a moment the reason my daughter is creeped out. She and I share our disgust for bugs. It's possibly the biggest drawback of living away from other human civilization and out in the midst of a corner of what some have referred to as the "boondocks." We have bugs out here. LOTS of bugs. Dear Daughter and I have once again survived the most horrifying three weeks of summer that happen each year around this time. It's the time when the ping pong ball sized shiny green kamikaze June Beetles come out of the ground to buzz around for a mate so they can lay eggs and produce millions more of their kind for next year. They are harmless, more than a few people have reminded me. Perhaps, but I still don't like it when they carelessly bonk into the side of my head because they are such miserably poor navigators. And they make the creepiest buzzing noises as they sweep by your head, missing you by centimeters. I get all panicky that they are going to get stuck in my curly hair the way that June Beetle did that summer night in high school when I ran around the woods in the dark at my friend's house lighting off fireworks and being generally stupid. That thing hung out in my hair for awhile, apparently, because I didn't even know it was there until I tried to wash my hair in the shower later that night and got the thing even more tangled in a web of wet curls and shampoo. It wouldn't stop buzzing and I don't know how I kept from screaming and waking the whole house up.
Before we moved out here to no-man's land where the beetles really are as big as Volkswagens, I thought the Japanese Beetles were creepy. We had become infested with those even when we lived in town. But they seem tame at about one half to one third the size of the big tankers we have now.
A couple weeks ago, however, I became desensitized to the big green flying Volkswagens much the way I became desensitized to the smaller flying Japanese Beetles. At least the Volkswagen Beetles (ha ha...get it?) don't STING!
As you know by now, I like to drive the big ass lawn mower. The buzz and drone of the engine and monotonous action of back and forth rows are a soothing escape. It's the only time I can seem to give myself permission to sit still and zone out the rest of the world. Dear Son likes to drive the mower, too, and begs to climb up on my lap and steer the machine around the acreage. We were not quite 30 minutes into the job a couple weeks ago when I thought I felt a Volkswagen Beetle stuck in my hair. I started to relive the summer of '89 before I stopped the mower and turned off the blade and screamed to my boy child to run for his life with me. We were chased all the way up to the house, but not by Volkswagen Beetles. In fact, I still don't know WHAT they were for sure.
My husband speculates they were Africanized Killer Bees or some sort of thing. I can't find a picture or description anywhere on the Internet that matches what those things look like. I'm guessing they had a nest in the ground somewhere and we mowed over it. Whatever the reason, I'll never know, but they were PISSED OFF! One DID get stuck in my hair and stung my head before it found its way out. And I was stung in about four other random places. Dear Son was stung twice on the back of his neck, and since they had chased us up to the house they were swarming around the driveway and garage threatening us constantly. After icing the stings until they stopped burning, and dodging more stings as I stood in the driveway, I looked across the acre of grass between me and mower that sat idling in the grass with a couple dozen black and white bumblebee mutants buzzing around it. I insisted Husband check my curls thoroughly before putting on a cap and getting up my nerve to go back out there to retrieve the mower. The husband, you see, is seriously allergic to bee stings. Allergic enough to potentially die from a sting.He handed me a can of wasp and hornet spray and gave me a pep talk and sent me back out there. Thanks, Hon!
I got within 15 feet of the mower and the mutants literally came after me again just for STANDING there! I got stung again as I bolted back to the house. This time husband decided he was going to have to get in the game. He grabbed the wasp and hornet spray and went in. I stood in the driveway feeling like a major wimp and praying he didn't get chased and stung like I did. We didn't need any ER trips. And that's when he started doing a crazy dance and running back toward the house. He got stung, but barely. I started to run after Benadryl and an Epi-pen and call 9-1-1, but he seemed to be okay for the moment. We stood there looking at the mower running idle with a full tank of gas while the bees swarmed around it, and scratched our heads. Well, Husband scratched his while I held ice on mine where the stings still throbbed. We decided to go in together this time. Moral support for each other if nothing else. He grabbed the wasp and hornet spray again, and I grabbed a bad mitten racket and slowly we made our way down again. I swung at anything that moved and Husband sprayed at anything that moved until he got close enough to jump on the mower and drive it the heck out of Dodge. Then we ran in the house and bolted the windows and hid the rest of the day. Just kidding about that last part.
Not that it hasn't crossed my mind.