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Saturday, September 12, 2009


the redbelly

Today I got hit half a dozen times by yellow jackets. Trimming a couple of bushes Jr has at the house that he talks about cutting down, or used to. They were getting fairly ragged looking. Trimming the bushes is like cutting the grass. I ask if I can do it. No. So I do it without asking. Like in a late 70s Van Halen song, David Lee Roth squeals with Southern California teenage petulance, I don't ask for permission!

I was out there feeling good about being able to trim the excess off the bushes and make them look like Jr likes them. Got a good rhythm going. Felt a sting on lower left leg. I thought of somebody telling me recently about a time bit by a copperhead, said it felt like a sting. I looked down there. No snake. Then I felt some more, pop, pop, pop. They were flying around me like biplanes buzzing King Kong. Fortunately, I could run. They followed me. I ran in the house.

Several years ago I was on a tractor mowing on the Willis farm, the old Jim Scott place, below the lake. The ground was rough and the hay was poor. I was thinking putting up what hay there was functioned the same as bush hogging it. I'm rattling merrily on the Massey 135 and felt pop-pop-pop. Looked up and saw my head was the eye of the storm that was a circling swarm of bumblebees. A galaxy of them and I was the black hole. It was alarming to see that many bumblebees and me the focus of their attention. I jumped off the tractor and ran, leaving the swarm to circle the tractor. Only a couple followed me and they turned back.

I was looking at the swarm around the tractor amazed at how many bumblebees were in that circle. Then I saw the tractor was rolling. I'd not thought to throw it out of gear or turn it off. It was headed for the creek. I did not want to spend the rest of the day figuring out how to get the tractor out of the creek. I was there to mow the field, not to ruin the tractor. There was no time to dread it, just do it. I had to run through the swarm, turn the tractor off, then back through the gauntlet of bees again. This time the swarm found the missing human. I got popped a few more times and had to run a long ways to get away from them. It was just like a cartoon, except I was Butthead. BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD DO FARMWORK HEH-HEH HEH-HEH.

Talking with one of the nurses yesterday about something she'd asked if she could do--change the sheets on the bed. No. I told her, you don't ask. Just do it. The answer to any question is no. Mainly, it's because with him doing nothing but laying in the bed means he's lazy. He ought to be up doing these things people are doing for him. What he really means is he doesn't want to be a bother. In his way of seeing, he's nothing but a bother. So much is being done for him, he is saying, take a break, sit down, let's talk awhile, you're working too hard, you're doing too much, it makes me tired just watching you work.

Too, Jr Maxwell is used to doing for other people, very seldom for himself. He doesn't have enough wants to spend much time doing for himself. A good banjo, good truck, good rifle, good liquor and a woman are all he ever wanted. Now he has none of them. Everything's gone, even his fiddler's convention trophies, which someone has who isn't saying. When Ross talked to me about locking the door, I told him everything anybody would want has already been taken. There's nothing left for thieves in the night. 3 old televisions are in a back room, unplugged, ready for the taking, but nobody comes to get them. They're not digital.
One time out in the field with Caterpillar I saw a gray rock in a place I didn't remember seeing a gray rock before. The particular area had mostly white rocks. I poked it with a stick to see if it was small or big. A hornet crawled out of it and took to the air. Another crawled out and lifted off. Another and another. I saw Caterpillar's eyes get big and her react to 3 or 4 hits and she was out of there in a hurry. I was too. That was a pretty bad hit, considering her size. It would be about like starlings stinging me. I'll always remember that first look in Caterpillar's eyes that said, what was that? Then again and again and it's time to be someplace else right now.
I have the great good fortune that stings don't bother me at all. These stung for a few minutes, but went away. For a little while they were slightly swelled with a red spot in the middle, but they didn't hurt. I don't even know where they are now. Tomorrow and next day they'll itch. I've known a few people that an attack like I got today could be fatal to instantly. It shuts down breathing. That's it. Cat shit. Like stepping into quicksand.
I am extra glad it didn't happen to Jr. It would have at least got him to the emergency room. It's one of many things I'm grateful for in this life, that stings are not an issue. Like being glad I wasn't born in China or Beverly Hills. I'm so glad I'm not an Arkansas Walton and have to live underground in an armed fortress with guard towers above ground to keep the thick-fingered masses out of all my pretty things. Living Ayn Rand's fiction. Makes about as much sense as living Carlos Casteneda's fiction. Less.

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