Friday, August 20, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Summer Stingers

Mosquito bites. Wasps and yellow jackets stings.
Gnats buzzing in your face until you get tired of fighting them and retreat.
All are as much a part of summer as 90 degree days and beach vacations.

Perhaps it is summer’s attempt to balance the many good things, like fresh vegetables, beautiful flowers, swimming pools, and lazy days with a little evil just to keep us humble.

Thankfully, we have medicine now readily available to combat stings, soft mist sprayed on the skin for instant, cool relief. This was not always so. In the summers of my youth, we used whatever was handy.

One of the most often used remedies was snuff, probably because it was always available. Both my grandmothers kept their mouths packed all the time, so they would use the tip of their finger to get a little spittle, or snuff juice, and dab it on the bitten spot. Sometimes, before darkness drove us inside, we would have white/brown polka-dotted legs. It must have helped, at least temporarily, because we kept doing it. Nicotine has long been used in insecticides, so it probably did.

Mama swore by Clorox (she NEVER bought an off brand of bleach). If we were near the house, she would grab the bleach and put some on the affected area. I don’t know if it helped, but it certainly wasn’t harmful. Mama soaked her dentures in Clorox, keeping them pearly white as long as she lived.

Wasps were everywhere, especially in the little church we attended. It had high ceilings, and the wasps would build in the highest, most unreachable parts, where they remained undisturbed most of the time. With no air conditioning, the windows were raised constantly, giving the wasps easy access.

Come revival time, with music and shouting and stomping and fanning, they would get disturbed and begin kamikazee attacks on whoever was in their path, not distinguishing between saints and sinners. Many of us missed the message, unable to concentrate because we had to keep our eyes on the wasps. One time a wasp landed in my hair, causing me to involuntarily jump into the lap of the person sitting next to me,. It happened to be a tender young man so bashful, he couldn’t speak to anyone without blushing. I don’t recall him sitting by me ever again after that.

My battle with wasps has never ended. Right now, there are three, THREE, wasps nests under the rain gutters along the front of my house. I have knocked down four already. They kept rebuilding, and I finally surrendered to them. As long as they stay in their nests and behave, they can live there until the frost drives them to warmer places.

Look for the yellow jackets and gnats on another day.

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1Thess5.16-18