99 WORDS...AND A LITTLE BIT MORE
The flock of crows lifted off the branches of the trees surrounding the field. Circling, hovering, licking their lips at the prospects of the meal. Their assault on the insects is too late. Competition drones toward them. Crop-dusters swoop in for the kill.
Growing up in a rural area the day did not pass without interaction with some kind of insect. There were the ones that were a nuisance - mosquitoes, noseeums, and flies. Those that needed a wide swath of respect included wasps and horseflies; and then there were the ones quite unique; the ones we liked to catch in jars like dragonflies, damselflies, and bumble bees. .
We even had our own names for some of them. Kind of a local dialect, you could say. Common knowledge by those who live in our area, the moniker might be used in general conversation or maybe an underlying insult. Those who knew the nickname, knew both meanings, recognized the inside joke, and, appreciating the potential humour.
The wasp is not all doom and gloom. Their nests can be of use once they are abandoned, of course. Every so often, Dad would come across a vacated nest and take it home. I can hear you saying, “What the heck for? Was he nuts?” Actually, he was a very wise man in many areas of bush life. In the case of a wasp nest, he would peal several sheets from the outer layers. It was these sheets we carried with us in our saddle bags and kept around the house.
You see, when you are out on those bush trails - hiking or riding, a scratch or cut that won’t stop bleeding can become a problem. We slapped on a chunk of the nest, tied it in place with a piece of our shirt tail, we tore off for the job, and carried on. For whatever reason, and dad said it was the wasp’s spit, the sheet helps to coagulate the blood. It didn’t necessarily stop a major blood flow incident, but it did slow it down by thickening the blood as it oozed from the cut, giving you some much needed time to get to help.
Occasionally, I come across a nest that has been deserted. Usually it’s after an animal has had a meal, leaving it torn to pieces. Like dad, I will take the liberty of bringing a few small pieces home.
One more way to keep tradition and the old way of life alive.