W e e k s later, my 86- year- old mother and I are still talking about it — the day she and I drove up to Bonaire to do a little banking. That’s where we lived for over four decades, and Mom and I decided while we were in town, we’d visit our old house and take a walk down memory lane.
While we were there, we stepped out into the backyard, and I turned my attention to a metal bird feeder hanging from a sturdy branch of a Japanese magnolia tree.
“Hey Mom,” I said pointing to the bird feeder. “That’s a squirrel proof bird feeder, and you’ve been battling the squirrels lately. Why don’t we take this back to Toombs County with us and put it in your yard?”
Mom agreed, and I unhooked the feeder from the limb. I opened the hatchback of the car and set the metal contraption in the back.
As we backed out of the driveway, we heard a familiar buzzing and thumping. I glanced over at my mother and saw it flying toward the top of the passenger side window.
“Oh, watch out! There’s a wasp!” I shouted in her direction.
In a little bit of a panicked motion, Mom leaned toward me, rolled the window down, and we thought we saw the wasp fly out. Whew!
We Southerners know the instant terror seeing or hearing a stinging insect in our vicinity can instill. The last time I was stung was about two years ago, when I blindly reached underneath a board on our back deck, and one stung my hand. It lit me up something fierce. A year before that, the dog and I accidentally stepped on a yellow jacket nest in the woods. That kind of shock and awe stays with you. You never forget.
So having averted a crisis, Mom and I both breathed a collective sigh of relief and continued on our journey. A few minutes later, we merged onto I-16, and I heard that frightening buzzing sound again.
“There he is again!” I yelled. “I thought he flew out, but there he is!”
Once again, our unexpected visitor turned our peaceful drive into a mad frenzy. Mom’s eyes widened in terror as it flew right next to her face. With adrenaline coursing through her veins, she flailed her arms in an attempt to ward off his advances. She finally pushed the button to lower her window, and this time, I was sure I saw the wasp get sucked out of the car into the airstream.
“Lordy, Lordy!” Mom said, our blood pressures coming back down to normal levels.
Twenty minutes down the road, and guess what? There was another winged intruder, but this time, it was next to my head on the driver’s side.
“What the … ?” I lowered my window, and it flew out as we drove 70 mph down the road.
“What are the odds that there would be two wasps in this car with us?” I asked.
As we passed the Soperton exit, yet another wasp made yet another appearance on Mom’s side. This one was a bit agitated and aggressive, and Mom yelled, “Pull over! Pull over!”
I jerked the car into the emergency lane and slowed to a stop, and after what seemed like an eternity, she finally managed to get him out of the car.
As I merged back onto the interstate, I looked into the rearview mirror and saw another wasp flying around. That’s when it clicked, and suddenly, I had one of those “light bulb moments.”
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” I yelled.
“What? What? What?” Mom yelled back in response.
“Mom, that bird feeder is full of wasps, and it is in the back of the car with us! They’re coming from the feeder! We’re in a car full of wasps!”
For the next several seconds, there were more cuss words flying around in the car than wasps, as Mom and I both spewed expletives and continued from page
tried to figure out our best course of action. We finally decided to continue driving to her house, keep an eye on the stinging insects, and pray that neither of us got stung.
Thirty minutes later, we leapt from the car in relief. I took my key fob, and with a lot of distance between me and the SUV, I popped open the back and a few mad wasps flew out. I took a long pole and fished out the bird feeder and set it in her yard, then armed with a water hose and with my fastest running sneakers laced upon my feet, I opened the lid to the metal feeder. There it was — a beautiful, paper-like wasp nest the size of my outstretched hand.
As I said, Mom and I won’t soon forget that day — the day we drove a car with a bird feeder full of wasps from Bonaire to Ohoopee and lived to tell about it. We won’t ever make that mistake again. As for us, neither of us feel that we are wasp whisperers or anything special like that. No, those wasps simply had mercy upon us that day, and we are oh so grateful for that mercy. So grateful!