As my friends, Ben and Patty, slowly moved off their motorcycle when they came for a long-awaited visit, Ben asked about where he could put his bike. Did I have a porch at my apartment?.
Sure, and that there was plenty of room for his bike. So he all wheeled it to the back, I opened the porch gate and he pushed his large motorcycle towards the porch. When pushing, the bike tilted in to the bushes and upset the family of wasps.
Soon a rush of wasps were coming out… Patty ran so fast she was six apartments away by the time both Ben and I were being surrounded by over three thousand wasps.
I had taken a few large leaps away from the nest, but froze as soon as they were upon me. Ben and I stood frozen as thousands of wasps were surrounding us both.
The wasps formed a full column around each of us from head to toe. They all faced inwards about 18 inches away from the body as if they all knew the attack formation. It was a perfect column with me stuck in the middle. All their tiny eyes were looking at me! I did not even want to blink!
As they were hovering, I kept apologizing in my head, “We did not know you lived there, I am sorry, we meant you no harm, and mean you no harm. Please forgive us for disturbing your nest…” and I did not move anything at all, not an arm.
I felt instinctively that just one move and they all would sting me to my death (or wished I was dead). I felt no fear at that moment, just wanted them to know we were not attacking them.
Little did I know at the time, but Ben was also going over the same words in his mind and he was frozen in place too, totally surrounded by wasps.
Patty stood free of wasps about 40 feet away, and was horrified at what she saw. Both her friends were encapsulated in a perfect yellow tube of wasps. She was thinking the worst for us. She said nothing and just watched.
Not one wasp stung either of us, though they looked at us with fixed eyes for some time.
As I looked at them without turning my head, I was studying the way they hovered without much movement, and in harmony with each other.
They were spaced apart so that they filled from the ground to the top of my head and all around me in a geometric column.
I knew not to feel fear, nor did I think ‘I hope they do not attack me’. Where did that come from, I do not know, but in that moment I kept repeating my apologies in my head like a mantra. My lips did not move. Move might mean attack.
In that timeless space I found love in my heart for these tiny warriors. I sent out that I loved them, that they were a beauty to behold. I thought about their formation and the measurements they all knew. I stayed in the love and forgive-me mode.
Slowly some left and then others followed. They were returning to their home. The last to leave were probably their front line attackers, still staring us down.
Ben and I just stood in place long after we saw the last one leave. Patty edged closer to see more clearly if they were all gone and told us when there were no more behind us. Still we stood, reflecting now the narrow escape we made with this hoard of wasps.
I started to move very slowly first as Ben was the closest to the nest.
When he saw there were no wasp movement towards me, he moved one arm very slowly. A few centennials wasps came out to observe him! He started to move sideways, crab style, away from his motorcycle and the bush with the hidden nest.
One step and he paused, another step and he paused, until he felt like it was ok to leave. Both Patty and I also watched for him as if more than a few wasps were coming out in his movement, then he would need to freeze again.
Together we rounded the corner of my apartment and through the door. Ben was satisfied to leave his motorcycle right there by the bush with the “alarm system of wasps” that were guarding his bike.
It was then we all burst out in emotions we formerly held at bay. We gasped with anxiety, freaked with fear at the possibilities, and thanked God and the Wasp King for their mercy.
Patty started telling us what she would have done and Ben and I looked at each other dreadfully. She said she would have started swatting and wishing death on them all. That when she was watching us, she wished she had a can of wasp killer for she would have charged us spraying wildly.
Ben went in to lecturing his sweetheart on how she would be freakin’ dead by doing it. He knew what to do for he loves the outdoors and camps in many national parks. He said he was so glad that I knew what to do for if one of us surrounded by the hoard moved wrongly or aggressively, we both would receive three thousand stingers.
I found out from Ben he was also apologizing to the wasps.
We were also saying that we were glad that Patty had left the area as she would not have stood still, she would be swatting and the fight would have been on. Of she had been there and started combat, we all would be stung, no doubt!
We recycled our emotions several rounds to spend out some adrenaline.
We opened a bottle of wine and proceeded to get drunk as our nerves were firing overtime. Forget our plans to go out and eat, forget leaving the apartment.
We would eat drink and be merry right there.
No more nature at this moment. We felt small, felt vulnerable and like children. I tossed a frozen pizza in to the oven.
The next morning Ben went out by himself and slowly pulled his bike out the bushes and only a few wasps watched him as he did. In his reverent heart he held them and they just let him take his bike without attack or threats of attack.
~ Carolyn Thompson
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