Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Nest

I must not have closed the sliding glass door completely because four wasps had gotten into the house. I don't know how I'd missed seeing their nest right there in the doorway— true, it was over my head, but it was also large and swarming.

In my younger years I would have gone into crisis mode, putting on a big vinyl rain poncho, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat; I would have gathered the pesticide, the broom, and my nerves, and charged the nest, screaming for God to please protect me. Sort of like the Crusaders charging off to murder and mayhem.

I can't act like that anymore, perhaps because I've watched insects dying from the chemicals I've sprayed on them, and it was horrible. Maybe I've seen and read too much about how people died when Nazis sprayed them with insecticide and about how babies in the womb die when someone sprays them with saline. Maybe it's all gotten tangled up in my head, or maybe my frustrated rage at being so helpless to stop cruelty is making me act in unfocused and sometimes inappropriate directions. Maybe compassion for other lives doesn't come naturally to humans-- maybe it grows as we develop. Or maybe I've just been a slow learner.

Anyway, I got the broom, but I used it to gently herd the four insects out of the house. Then I got out the stepladder so I could get a closer look at them from the safety of my side of the glass. I've left the stepladder there for several days now to continue watching, being careful not to disturb them. Without a book or someone here to interpret what I’m seeing for me, I'm struggling. I thought they were pale orange, but now I think they're almost black. I thought they were solid-colored, but now they seem to have yellow-jacket stripes. I don’t know if they’re changing or if I’m slowly interpreting the visual input.

Since they are in my doorway, their lives and the lives of their next generation have become my responsibility. So I’ve been trying to remember to use the other door. I must exercise vigilance so no one else knocks down the nest, thinking they're doing me a good service. And since people will be coming in and out this weekend, I’ve put a sign up: Please Do Not Disturb This Nest. But on the other side, where just I can see it, the sign says: Please Do Not Disturb. Maternity Ward.

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