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On the Ranch Journal
A Hornet's Nest
by Cris Paravicini

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   The legend around this ranch says: Redheads are more apt to land in a
hornet's nest than anyone else, and I don't disagree. During my lifetime,
I've been stung so many times I've lost tally, and each summer "me and the
bees" still make connections, one way or the other.
   My first memory of the big sting was back when I was still riding a
stick horse. I'd thrown the big "sorrel" fellow over a foot gate near the
corral and began the climb to join him on the other side. Little did I know
as I stepped on the top pole, that my hoss had squarely speared a mammoth,
smoking hornets' nest during its airborne trip.
   By the time it all registered, I had been "hit" twice and was knocked
backwards, landing on my back in the dandelions. I left "Old Red" to fend
for himself and raced to the house to let my mom know I was dying.
   The next summer, when I was about six or seven years old, I headed down
the irrigating ditch near our old house. I hadn't gone far when the soft
ground along the path ignited in a storm of yellow jackets that were trying
to make their home beneath the sandy ditch bank. They were outraged at the
little brat who'd stomped through their territory and stirred 'em up.
   It took only a second for them to put fire in my baggy pants and a buzz
in my tee shirt as they swarmed into every opening. Once again, I was sure
I was dying as the bees drove me back to the house. My mom ripped off my
clothes, and the "jackets" flew to the four winds.
  Over the years, I've even been stung while moving cows. I can simply be
riding along minding my own business and out of the blue - Pow! - they've
gotcha. After being "nailed," the pain grows rapidly and moves away from
the bite site like fire in dry prairie grass. It goes from a sharp nip to a
deep tidal wave of pulsing pain, radiating from your pigtails clean to your
   I, now, can predict precisely how bad the pain will be, if I chance to
see the little devil before I've pinched, stomped, slapped, squashed, or
scared it off with high-pitched screams.
   I've knelt down on honeybees while filling bale-sweep water cans at a
creek or slough, and have discovered that the impact from their sting
doesn't last very long. But from the little honeybee on up the chain of
command to bumblebees, hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps, the effects of
the sting can be the topic of conversation for days.
   This summer has been no different for "me and the bees." One morning, I
was sweeping out the outhouse getting ready for the hay crew, and while
nonchalantly humming Song of the South, "...the bare necessities, the
simple bare necessities...forget about your worries and your cares..."
something kept tapping me lightly on the head and shoulders. Still, I
continued sweeping and humming, while the tapping kept happening, until
suddenly it dawned on me that my humming had picked up a deep bass
accompaniment, and I thought, "Oh, sh--!" 
   When I looked up, the little one-seat cubicle was swarming with
hornets. Seems I'd been poking my broom handle against their football-sized
homestead that was hanging in the corner. I knew, indeed, as I listened to
the intensity of the drone vibrating deep within the layered paper nest, I
was NOT welcome. But, for some strange reason this particular colony of
little hotshots only warned me, politely, "Get the heck out! And stay out!"
Because I never argue with any bee, I backed off...until nightfall.

The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, Wyoming. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 1999-2000. Drawing of Daniel Schoolhouse by Teresa Shenefelt. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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