A change in the weather

Rick Watson Guest Columnist

September 10, 2013

The weather this summer has been wacky, and with that wackiness (is that a word?) came a change in the behavior of birds and bugs. The hummingbirds showed up late to begin feeding, and for some reason they didn’t have to compete with the yellow jackets for the sugar water in feeders just outside our front windows.

We’d pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that it would be too cool to swim this year, and then the rain moved off to the east. Soon it was hot enough to toast croissants on the bannisters of the back deck.

I made the mistake of taking my shirt off and sitting in one of our wrought-iron chairs to soak up a little sun. It only took a second to brand a patchwork of tiny squares onto my back.

Then yesterday morning, I awoke to what sounded like a low-flying jet passing overhead. As I lay there rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I realized the sound was rain on our metal roof.

I stumbled into the kitchen and flipped on the coffeemaker before stepping out to the screen porch. The wind out of the northwest was tinkling the chimes, and a gust blew a fine mist through the screen onto my face.

The gently flapping fan sent goose bumps up my arm so I stepped inside to flip the switch and let the blades coast to a stop before stepping back outside until the coffee was ready. The front moved through during the day, and the cool weather was back.

This morning when we headed out for our daily walk, it felt like autumn. Things had definitely changed….again.

Walking down our path to meditation rock is a leisurely stroll with the angle of the grade almost pushing you along. The trek back up the hill was a little more challenging for our cardiovascular workout.

When we passed in front of the barn my mind was a million miles away. I was thinking about music, life, and how to solve the pesky world peace issue.

We heard the dogs chasing something just off the trail, and then they came blazing by like their tails were on fire.

I heard Jilda say, something’s crawling on me. Before I could step back to check her out, she started swearing like a sailor in a bar fight.

I realized the critters on her arm were yellow jackets. I started slapping them off of her but not before four of them nailed her.

While trying to make sure she was jacket free, two flew up and stung me on my arm.

We had a consensus to cut our walk short and get something on the stings.

When I stepped inside, I felt something crawling on my neck. Before I could swat it off I got stung on the neck and between the fingers.

Yesterday evening my nephew Haven came up and just before dusk, he found the yellow-jacket nest, which was a few feet off the walking trail. Our paths might never have crossed had the dogs not discovered their nest and decided to investigate.

We are a live and let live kind of couple, but tonight there are a lot more yellow-jackets in bug heaven.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on You can contact him via email: