Buzz on summer games makes you itch to get outside
By Linda Albert | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
How well I can remember the summer days of yore, as a child, teenager and young woman hanging out with family at my parents’ home in rural Blount County. Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Homemade ice cream. Naps on a blanket in the cool grass. Exploring the hills and “hollers” with the neighbors of my age. Books. Lightning bugs. Games — softball, kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, foot races.
Living out in the country during the summer gave rise to certain games reluctantly played by my daddy, my brother-in-law, my nephew and later, my husband, while doing yard work, too. See if these sound familiar: weed-whacker toss; lawn-mower creek jump; hat-flap-and-run. I’m sure anyone who has had the dubious honor of running into or over a yellow jacket nest knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Thank goodness, no one ever got stung too badly, otherwise I would have felt really horrible laughing at the sight of grown men leaping off a moving lawn mower and running while waving their caps at the angry bees. Using the push mower or weed whacker along the banks of the small creek that ran through the property was fun, too, when the yellow jackets boiled out of the disturbed nest like lava from an erupting volcano. The men fished many a weed whacker out of that creek after properly disposing of the bees’ nest.
I had my own altercations with bees, the most memorable being while cleaning out a fence row at the old hog pen at Mama’s. I pulled up a weed and the next thing I knew, a bumble bee was letting his displeasure be made known by stinging me on the upper lip, my hands and arms as I ran toward the house. Back then, when I was half the woman I am now, I was a fast runner but I couldn’t outrun the bumblebee. I can just imagine how humorous that race was to an observer, with me loping down the hill, flailing, probably using some colorful language, as my husband ran with me flapping his cap at the bee. He was finally able to knock it to the ground and stomp on it.
Now, that was an experience I hope to never repeat. My lip swelled so much that I looked like a Donald Duck impersonator. Of course, it happened right at suppertime, and after working outside for several hours, I was starving. Have you ever tried to eat with an extremely fat lip? It hurt like the devil, too, even with an ice pack and acetaminophen. I felt a little sick but didn’t have a reaction bad enough to seek medical attention, thank the good Lord. We did call and ask what reactions would require a trip to the ER, just to be on the safe side.
And then there are chiggers. What summer is complete without a passel of big, super-itchy knots from those horrible little chigger demons? Picking blackberries was when I got them most, but walking through the tall grass in the pasture or bank fishing or working in the yard could result in them, as well. Mama always said to put nail polish on the bumps to kill the chiggers, but after googling (what did we do before Google?), I found out that chiggers don’t burrow into your skin and stay there, as we always thought. Instead, they inject digestive enzymes into the skin and feed on the decomposed tissue, causing itching so intense it would drive you crazy. Yuk. I think I’m glad we actually didn’t know that. Now I’m itching just thinking about it ...
Nowadays, I don’t spend a lot of time in the great outdoors so the bees and chiggers aren’t a big factor. Sometimes the bees will take a test flight inside when I open the door to let the dogs in or out, but I just open the door and let them back outside before they get too cozy. I have the same understanding with them as I do with Wilford, the king snake that hangs around my house, and his kin: You don’t bother me, and I won’t bother you. Just stay outside where you belong.
All bets are off if they don’t agree to my terms, though — and I have the insect killer and hoe to prove it.
Linda Albert is Sunday Life editor and a staff writer for The Daily Times. Her column runs every Sunday in the Life section. You may contact her at 981-1168 or (email@example.com)