This weekend has, for a change, been sufficiently dry to inspire me to do some gardening. Quite necessary, as weeds thrive in the wet summer we’ve had so far. Now one can either embrace weeds and decide thistles, nettles, dandelions, chamomile and out of control daisies belong in your flowerbeds, or one does one best to exterminate them. I belong in the latter category, and have over the years developed a strategy whereby I plant my beds so as to leave very little room for unwelcome visitors – well, that’s the theory at least.
Yesterday I was setting the final touches to one of my beds when my hoe sort of disappeared. Okay, this is an exaggeration; the hoe sank a decimetre or so into the soil, but I was using quite some force, so I sort of fell forward a bit. Unfortunately. Out of the cavity rose a cloud of wasps. Angry, buzzing wasps, all of them intent on punishing the clumsy fool that had just collapsed their roof. I’ve never liked wasps. They fly in erratic patterns, they are unfazed by hand-flapping or screaming (I suspect they might be deaf), and they have a penchant for always popping up uninvited for tea. Since yesterday I like them even less, given that I am present nursing not one, but several wasp stings.
As they came at me, one would assume I would drop the hoe and run. Nope; I gripped my hoe and stood my ground, not quite registering that these were mean buggers – until the first sting. This is when I revert to very stereotyped female behaviour; I bellowed for my husband who came rushing from the other end of the garden.
“Nnngh!” I said, waving a stung hand at him.
“What?” he said. As we live in Sweden, he had already discounted venomous snakes, crocodiles and aggressive scorpions, but did he need to smile as broadly as he did?
“Ah, a bee sting,” he said.
Nope, not a bee. A bee stings and dies, a wasp stings and lives to see another day, and these little buggers had definitely flown off after damaging my hand. I pointed towards the buzzing cloud.
“Wasps,” I said, before handing him the hoe and rushing inside to raid the medicine box.
Outside, my husband had decided he didn’t want an underground wasp nest in his garden. In shorts and clogs he went at it with a combination of hoe and insect spray. Result; stings to his feet. Being intrepid and very stubborn (this is his Scottish blood) this just made him fetch the heavy artillery, his blow torch. Moments later he was cursing and galloping off to find some water as he’d set my lavender on fire… Whatever the case, the dual shock of fire and water seemed to have done the trick; the wasps were gone – for now.
There are a number of animals on my “what for” list. Topping that list are ticks, followed by wasps. I see no purpose to a wasp – unless it is to enervate the rest of the animal kingdom. Or maybe God was a bit bored at the tail-end of the sixth day, and so he went for an irritating, pesky creature to liven things up a bit. Whatever the case, God can have them back – unless, of course, they earn their keep by eating those bloodsucking ticks!