I have a love hate relationship with my neighborhood. I love the diversity, the older folks, the park behind my house. I really don't love my crazy neighbors, the ones who make life miserable for the rest of us. We have had some challenges this year that has finally prompted me to start whatever process I have to do to move to a safer, quieter, more sane area.
There are two little girls that live across the street, beautiful blonde-haired blue-eyed princesses. One even wears an impressively sparkly tiara. The girls ride their bikes up and down the sidewalk day after day after day. They have grown up in that house, well, as grown up as they can be at age seven or so.
The girls discovered a paper wasp nest hanging from a tree and have been totally intrigued, riding their bikes under it then sharply turning around screaming "the Queen is out the Queen is out!!!" and racing back home.
Over the weekend I saw the two little girls plus their little female cousin and a couple of high school girls approach the nest. I figured the princess and the pea were going to show the older girls their discovery.
Was I wrong.
Before I knew it all five had picked up rocks and were winding up for the pitch. I thought only boys did this kind of thing.
"Knock it OFF!" I yelled, just in the nick of time. I began my lecture from across the street and they sulked back to their house. It wasn't long before I heard "the Queen is out the Queen is out!" and saw them tearing back down the sidewalk to their homes. I had visions of wasp formations zooming out of the nest, stinging the shit out of the girls. "It would serve them right," I thought.
I grumbled about those kids the rest of the weekend, along with my complaints about the rest of the dweebs I share this street with. In my mind they grew into rats, blond haired blue-eyed rats. Stupid girls acting like stupid boys trying to kill yet another helpless little bunch of creatures.
Tonight I went to check my bees out at a farm, and when I pulled in my driveway up rode the one without the tiara.
"Are you the lady that yelled at us the other day?" she asked.
"Yes," I replied, waiting for her smart ass remarks to start flying.
"Thank you" she said.
Not, "You're a mean old lady and we're gonna smash your tomatoes!"
She said thank you. A seven year old.
I told them I was afraid they would get stung. I asked if they wanted to learn about the wasps. She said she loved nature and wanted to learn all about them. So I told her. Soon Princess arrived, then they called over the little cousin. Question after question poured out of their little blonde mouths.
"If a possum or raccoon is in my backyard will they kill our dogs?"
"Do you know about every kind of animal in the whole world?"
"I found a bug with red legs and a red body, and it was real big. What is it?"
"I found a green caterpillar and gave it leaves and it turned into a butterfly and it was so cool!"
"I want to learn about Moose."
And on and on they chattered.
I went back into the house feeling like a bigger asshole than my neighbors. Lord it's hard to be humble when you are ALMOST perfect in every way.
After I put my things away, I went to the basement and searched my nature library. There, on the top shelf, was my collection of Golden Nature Guides. Reptiles and Amphibians. Birds. Insects. Trees. Butterflies. One by one I pulled them down, blew the dust off, and went to find my new friends.