Saga seem like a strong word for something that only took up a few minutes of each day, for two days. But the whole idea of it – the physicality and possibilities it presented – was living rent free in my brain for a solid day – so, well – saga stays.
Saturday, Aug 7 – 2021, 9:30 AM
Ragged Mountain, Berlin CT
There are only a few things that will turn me around on a trail – but a medicine ball sized white-faced hornet nest is one of them.
Unlike a brown bear, black snake, or a raging river, these bastards cannot be reasoned with or navigated around. They exist to protect their queen, and will attack, unprovoked, in droves, without regard for their existence – or yours.
They are the epitome of “hive-minded” and their sting is incredibly painful – you can expect multiple stings from each one of these death-dealers, in rapid succession.
I considered running underneath the hive, but when I got to about 20 feet away, they emerged – ready to meet me as I scurried by.
So, lack of better words – fuck that.
For anyone out wandering and wondering on Ragged Mountain, this is off-the beaten path, but you’ll notice it once you turn on to this section of the trail.
Sunday, Aug 8 – 2021, 9:30 AM
Ragged Mountain, Berlin CT
In the summer of 2005 I had my knee partially rebuilt and it sequestered me to the second floor of our old house for about a week.
Somewhere in the middle of that, I heard yelling – followed by screaming – out in the yard. My neighbor was walking the fence line and an efficient swarm of white-faced hornets were attacking him. He was lying on the ground, crawling back to his house by the time I made it to the window.
They didn’t know he was a 95 year old World War II veteran or that he trained for months in Colorado just so he and his friends could be dropped into the Alps and persuade the war to swing in our favor. So, while they were stinging him over and over – tap tap tap – they sure as shit didn’t know that there is a whole PBS documentary about it…
It’s the only time I felt helpless – because I couldn’t help him. Though I did manage to get down and out and into the yard to blast that nest with my Mossberg full of rock salt – forever changing the tide of their war – the next night when those deathdealers were all asleep in the hive.
White-faced hornets are the least productive of the pollinators. They’re also the most aggressive and push out the beneficial pollinators wherever they build their nest – which they can do overnight if they’ve got their shit together.
I told my mom I wouldn’t go down the path they were on, today – but of course I did. But today I could hear them before I saw them, as I rounded the corner past the old, blue Jeep.
Karma, the Holy Spirit, or the guy on the mountain bike I warned about the nest who hit the trail ahead of me, had knocked that big paper deathsphere to the ground and its inhabitants were loud and angry; in a tizzy over their half-deflated home.
The swarm looked like an old TV you switched to a channel the bunny ears couldn’t catch – white and black snow – spinning around, trapped in some imaginary area that they wouldn’t fly out of – all to protect a miserable queen, who – because of her dedicated lot in life – was probably even more miserable than her horde.
So now this deflated house of hell lives in the middle of the trail where it will be abandoned, for good reason: how can you have an evil lair if it’s just a pile of rubble on the ground and really be feared? I have no remorse for the joy I feel in seeing destroyed. There’s plenty of other places for them to set up shop.