It is Bee Season. Have you noticed?
When we were kids, summer up at the lake meant running barefoot in a yard dotted with white clover covered with bumblebees.
This often ended badly for one of my siblings, or cousins, or me. And always for the bees.
Those bumblebees were large and furry. They looked like they’d be fun to hold in a cupped hand. If they hadn’t had those stingers, we probably would have tried to keep them as pets just like the swirling, inky black clouds of baby bullheads we collected in minnow traps and kept in a bucket until our grandfather felt sorry for them and told us to let them go.
Most of the time, the bees just sort of bumbled along, minding their own business unless they were in imminent danger of getting squashed by a kid’s foot. Their stings burned, but some baking soda paste usually took the “bite” out fairly fast. Our feet still went bare and warnings from people far more bee savvy than we were went largely ignored during those summers of sunburns, mosquito bites, and damp swimming suits removed only to sleep.
I have been thinking a lot about those bees this week. A late night visit to the ER last summer after an allergic reaction to two yellow jacket bites is the reason. The doctor who treated me that night told me that bee sting allergies are a lot like a ticking time bomb. You play Bee Roulette once too often, and your number comes up. Thanks to those bumblebees from so many years ago, I guess mine finally did last summer.
I do my best to avoid buzzing things now. However, it seems that I have become a Bee Magnet. I feel like I have a sign on my forehead that only bees can read that has “Sting Me!” written on it.
And so, when I’m filling my gas tank and suddenly I’m buzzed, I cringe and beat it to the other side of the car. When I weed my garden or try to mow the lawn, I have two or three of the ornery, sneaky little stinging machines following me around the yard as my heart races. I tell my berry picking partner where I keep the Epi Pen, hoping that she knows how to use it if I get stung in the berry patch miles from town.
Despite all this nonsense, I keep doing the things I want to do because I refuse to be beaten by bees. I’m stubborn that way. Besides, too soon, there will be a hard frost and the maple leaves will change color. Then, months (months!) of winter will be upon us here in the North woods once again and the bees will go wherever bees go. Bee Hell, perhaps. I’ll make soup and bake more and wear wool sweaters and hibernate until next spring, like a bear.
I’ll keep warm remembering those sweet childhood summers of those seven pairs of dirty bare feet on seven blue eyed, bullheaded children who didn’t have time to worry about bumblebees or anything else, for that matter. There was no time. We were far too busy enjoying one more sweet summer for any of us to care.
Memories take the sting out of most things, don’t they?