It was a Friday just like any other. We were all putting in that bit of extra umph to get a jump on the weekend an hour or two early. The three of us were wrapping up the land clearing of a small lot on 34thstreet in Palm City. A family friend had high hopes of building a home there, then relocating. lotclear4So far we had stumbled across our fair share of confused critters, all of which we tried to accomidate to the best of our ability; a family of bunnies for whom Papa had built a brush motel, where they could stay until they’d found a new home elsewhere, and a Cuban Midnight Anole who stared in mild disgust at us while showing off his color changing abilities. In return, we left the tree we found him in untouched. With our good deeds tucked in our belt, we continued to conscientiously cut back on the overgrown vegetation. As an empathetic, non-discrimininating lover of animals, I was slightly more aware (than Papa or Timmy) of the many little lives we were evacuating from the premises. However, I was still comforted by the knowledge that we were doing a great job. If WE hadn’t been there ourselves, some other larger company could have surely scattered those bunny brains and left that Anole stumped . Furthermore they’d have done so without any remorse OR lack of weekend sleep, while fiercely ravaging our buddy’s bankroll. I mean, we have to make a living here somehow! Maybe Mother Nature wouldn’t hold too big of a grudge with us. Or maybe I was just being severely optimistic AS USUAL, and she had her ass-lashing-retribution in the forefront of her mind. With only a small corner of lot left to clear, we directed our attention to a fairly large maple tree. She still held a bit of green in her leaves, but the majority of the branches were bare. Regardless, we’d be taking her DOWN. Pop pushed the bucket of the Kubota against the trunk, ensuring the maple wouldn’t land on our heads, or even worse (ha ha!) end up obstructing either street that lined the lot. Timmy revved the Husqie up and cut into the bark. Pop and I watched somewhat cautiously, as the cut grew larger faster and started spitting dust onto Timmys shirt. He screamed over the howl of the saw: “It’s cutting like butter. It’s hollowed out!!!” Within seconds we heard the trunk spit. The tree crunched to the ground, sending branches flying. tortoisedig1All of this had been expected. Tree work was a commonality for us. Even Pop had seen his share of tree work. I remember watching him as a little girl in Massachusetts, cutting the massive Oak in our horse pasture. I had stood between a few of our neighbors who’d come to witness this . His aim couldn’t have been closer to perfection. The tree was between barn, fence, and even more fence, leaving no room for even a smidgen of error. That day Papa had put that twisted old tree exactly where he’d wanted it. As for myself, I had accumulated my own small chunk of experience with Northern Tree before moving down here. And Timmy, well….. he could handle that saw like a paring knife. I didn’t hear the buzz until Timmy had already dropped the saw, and had galloped halfway across the property. I honestly hadn’t even heard it until my feet had sent me in his path away from the tree. The funniest part of all of this was Pop had somehow gained on both of us, GRACELESSLY making it all the way to the nearest house. . .That morning, he had dressed himself in his bright red button necked t-shirt, while Timmy and I had chosen blue jean, plaid, white, and the cammo on our snake boots. The bees preferred the color red as well, and directed their attention to the one wearing it. While Timmy and I leapt and bounded toward the safety of the truck like long legged gazelles, Papa whooped and thrashed with the likeness of a stumpy little warthog. Timmy was first in the truck, myself second. And although I was a bit worried that Pop might get stung, it appeared to be only two or three little bees that had soldiered on, dipping and diving at him. The little bastards buzzed wildly, while Pop swatted the air with his hat. He made it to the truck within a seemingly long minute, joining me and Timmy in our cab full of laughs. It wasn’t until those three little bees had called in their swarm of commerads, that we realized what we were up against. Bees butted their little bee-foreheads against the windshield and windows of the truck. These troops were clearly organized AND hostile. These two characteristics usually point to the AFRICANIZED honeybee species. We’d had to wait until the middle of the following week to finish up the land clearing of the 34th street lot. The bee guys were called to come in, smoke the hive to sleep and haul them somewhere else. We’d been left with a memory we could recall with a little fear and a lot of humor, and also a little insider information: Mother Nature isn’t always as forgiving as we’d like her to be, and of course we cannot forget that Papa, wildabeast grace and all, can STILL run faster than us.
Unexpected Inhabitants
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