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  • I get along with most of creation except for wasps. I know there are beneficial wasps. I know even the evil ones fill an environmental niche. Bees are fine but me and wasps have a history.

    For a long time when I was stung I would swell up enormously. If I was stung on the leg I hobbled around for a week with a leg painfully swollen so that it looked like I was wearing a skin tone hipboot on that leg. A sting on the arm put me out of work for a week.

    People told me to avoid them and I did with a paranoiac trepidation. But on a remote, mostly wooded and meadowed island it is not so easy. The wasps made their nests in the roots and stumps where trees had been cut or fallen. They set up camp in the tall grasses. They built nests in the eaves and under porches. They set up their sentries and waited for me. I couldn’t not work in the woods, cut the grass with mower or with scythe, couldn’t not go out to look for blueberries. And, for me, each trip was a foray into enemy territory.

    One time I went up on the roof to repair some wind damaged shingles. I ripped off the broken ones with my hammer and a pry bar and out came a swarm of wasps. I took off down the roof, paused at the ladder, felt as much as heard the host behind me and jumped.

    No stings but I landed badly and jammed my leg and was laid up for a week with a mammothly swollen leg.

    The doctor prescribed an eppi pin and asked how far to the nearest hospital.

    At high tide or low tide, I asked. How much time are talking about?

    20 minutes he told me.

    I shrugged I was screwed no matter what the tide in that case.

    For several years I seriously avoided any work that would get me up close with wasps. But just the same I got stung.

    I got stung weeding the garden where they had made a home in the soft soil of a raised bed. I got stung picking cherries. I got stung sitting back in an Adirondack chair. I got stung picking up a glass of lemonade.

    I indulged in revenge raids. I went in packing wasp killer that shot streams of foam 20 feet.

    The wasps stung back.

    Then a couple of years ago I heard an interview on the radio with a garlic farmer. He said he rubbed raw garlic on stings. I got the opportunity to try it three days later.

    Since then my reaction has vanished. I get stung. It hurts. But no swelling.

    The doctor also said that either the reactions would get worse or better, clever guy that doctor. So it could be the better bit.

    Funny thing is, Carly, my daughter, used to have no reaction to wasps and now she swells up like a pumpkin.

    One of the new garden beds?

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