This time of year Oregon buzzes with yellow jackets, paper wasps, and hornets. Yellowjackets nest in the ground in large hives with multiple openings, and they are very aggressive if a person happens to enter their space. Hornets can also be aggressive, but usually nest up high, where we are unlikely to bother them. Paper wasps are not usually aggressive unless their nests are messed with. However, sometimes they nest in unusual places, like inside a vent pipe near a water faucet (where I once got stung). Coho usually plays host to a few yellow jacket communities over the late summer, so we must be on the lookout for them as we go about the land.
One year, early on at Coho, a yellow jacket brigade discovered me weeding too close to their hive and dispatched me with multiple stings, and a newfound terror of yellow jackets. It was quite shocking, with lots of tears and pain. I remain vigilant during yellow jacket season. The yellow jackets currently residing in the leaf pile and I have an agreement, I can get wood chips, as long as their leaf pile is not touched. Cohoots have been posting their favorite sting remedies, such as meat tenderizer, potato, onion, ice, benedryl, and something that sucks the venom out.
Life events have prevented me from keeping up with customary grounds chores, so I resorted to gardening by night last evening. It was challenging to cut stems I could not see, but at least I did not have to deal with working in the hot sun, and I still have all of my fingers. Afterwards, in bed, I discovered an ‘egg’ on my forehead, a soft swollen area with just a hint of pain. It took a while to reconstruct the memory of swatting something away from my forehead and a sharp, but brief pain. It also occurred to me that the perpetrator had the density of a wasp. I was so intent upon getting things done, that I did not stop when the painful event happened, then forgot all about it.
Had I been aware that I had been stung, I would have gone into RED ALERT!!!! DO SOMETHING NOW!!! RUN!!! UNDER SIEGE!!! FIND SOME MEAT TENDERIZER!!! However, not knowing about the sting, the adrenaline rush never happened. The pain was there – then gone in a flash. I was not panicking about all the future stings that might happen if I don’t run. Twenty-four hours later, the ‘egg’ on my forehead has more of a hard boiled texture, and it itches just a little, if I touch it. Nice to have a new frame of reference in which to hold the experience of a sting. It was not a yellow jacket swarm. It was just one sting.