Dive Bombed

It’s end of summer which means that the days are shorter, the katydids have tuned up….

…and we have to run the gauntlet into the house. Through the mudroom and past the dive bombers.

At nightfall, they’re easy to pick out. They cast shadows on the walls and hover in the doorway. I hesitate on the deck and look longingly at the kitchen door. Then I take a breath, and charge through the mudroom, hunched over like I’m trying to tie my shoe while I run. There’s the fumble for the knob, I give the door a swift kick (it sticks in the humidity ) and hurl myself to safety of the kitchen. 

Then I remember my cell phone’s in the car.

Years ago, when I first saw the bombers buzzing our mudroom, I dubbed them African bees — because everthing’s bigger in Africa. Actually, they’re really called “cicada killers” or “cicada killer wasps.”

Anything with “killer” in its name can’t be good. Frankly, they should be called Big-ass-scary-stinging-creatures, because they look like this:

They emerge from ground burrows — tiny dark holes that pock-mark the lawn — fly about, paralyze their prey, and ultimately, end their lives in the mudroom light fixture. I don’t know why they prefer this sconce over others, but by autumn, the bulb is snuffed out by the mosh pit of wasp bodies. They’re so determined to seek this light, they crawl through the dog-door to reach it.

For a while, I didn’t mind the cicada killers. I categorized them with carpenter bees: leave them alone and they’re harmless.

Then a carpenter bee stung me. Apparently he was trapped in our mailbox, and he was ticked off about it. So he parked himself on the DirecTV bill and waited for a hand to exact his vengence. The sting to my palm burned like hell.

Apparently, the cicada killer’s is painful as well, says Martin, who had one crawl under his shirt. It stung the bejesus out of his back.

So now we don’t walk, we run into the house, ducking like we’re fleeing bombs in a war zone. Still, we try to act cool around the kids.

Yesterday morning Cayden announced, “Hey, there’s a bee in my shoe!” Martin dumped it out and I told The Boy not to worry. They’re just like carpenter bees — they don’t sting.

Often.