This past spring, I walked by our young, sugar maple several times a day before I noticed a wasp entering a nest hanging on a branch. Uh-oh. Paper wasps.
Concealed in foliage, I’d overlooked the wasps’ construction of their home.
A beekeeper who loathes the wasp that hides in my bee boxes stored in my greenhouse, I reported the nest to my husband.
“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” Mel said. “Call James.”
“I’ll be over at ten tomorrow morning,” James said.
By 10:10 a.m., James put my tree pruner to the small branch where the hive hung. A wasp promptly flew to James and stung his forehead. As I do when a wasp or bee stings me, I ran to a little patch of plantain leaves, plucked up a few, macerated them with my teeth, and gave the antidote to James.
“Hold this on the sting to relieve the pain and reduce swelling,” I said.
Our tree guy obeyed.
While he considered his next step, I referred to the internet to help determine our options. As the nest’s location was out of harm’s way, we agreed to leave the nest for the first frost to kill the queen.
Thus we lived in harmony. Mel mowed around the tree without incident. I weeded and pruned my backyard gardens sting-free all summer long. I minded my business, and the wasps minded theirs while I weeded and organized my greenhouse without a wasp sting. So, they hadn’t migrated.
After I deadheaded my gardens this fall, the first frost came. The wasps disappeared. That simple.
Within the string of these uncommonly fair, November days of fifty to sixty degrees, I completed deadheading and raking my backyard gardens-burning piles of leaves, weeds, and spent flower stems and blooms.
Wind and fire incinerated in minutes what our trees and gardens had yielded for our eyes to behold.
As I walked from the fire pit in the hind part of the backyard toward the house, I spied the wasp nest in the maple tree. The hive had become a garden feature with a history and a lesson. So I took a closer look.
A great hole exposed the inside, and I would save what’s left.
I walked up the garden steps to the garage and retrieved the tree pruner James attempted to use to remove the occupied nest. Within five minutes, I held the paper structure and studied the remarkable interior architecture of cells within.
This belongs to James’ children, I determined.
Dear Reader, I stood beside the little maple tree with the nest, beheld the blessed landscape God gave my husband and me thirty-five years ago. Louis Armstrong’s melody came to mind. “I see skies of blue, and clouds of white, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
Wonderful, indeed. For the ashes in the fire pit from this growing season will fertilize the gardens for next year’s blooms. As long as Earth remains, so do the wonderful lessons within each season.
Contact Iris at email@example.com