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Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Suppressed Random Childhood Memory

This week I was stung on the knee by a yellow jacket. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but it had been so long since the last sting I received, I had forgotten how much it hurts. A few days later, two of my children made references to Steig Larsson's trilogy, the third book of which is called The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
Those experiences brought back a memory I had suppressed for years. When I was eight years old, my parent; brother, Jim; and I moved away from Hinckley for a few months. My dad took a construction position in Utah County building a condominium complex. While this project was going on, we lived in Pleasant Grove from October 1969 to May 1970 and in Provo from May to August 1970. I attended third grade at Central Elementary in Pleasant Grove and then we spent the summer before fourth grade living in a trailer next to the Provo River. When I lived in Provo as a student 12 years later, I went to the location of that trailer park and found it is now a city park.
I was pretty blue the summer of 1970. Jim and I only had each other to play with because we didn’t know any kids around there. Most of our belongings (books and toys) were packed in boxes and were staying that way because we would be moving back to our house in Hinckley in a short time. After a day or two of living in Provo, I found the best way to pass the time was to sit on a large, flat rock that overhung the river. I could throw sticks and rocks into the water, I could watch the wildlife in and around the water, or I could listen to the sound of the fast-moving water. I was quite fascinated by the river. On my first day visiting the river, I saw an enormous gray, papery wasp nest lying on the ground about 10 feet from the edge of the water. It was about 15 inches long and shaped like a fat football. Apparently a storm had blown it out of a nearby tree. I had to walk past the nest every day as I went to my favorite rock by the river. I instinctively gave it a wide birth, even though it seemed deserted and was lying on the ground instead of hanging in a tree as it had been at some previous point in time.

This routine went on for what seems like weeks, but was perhaps only days—I’d get up, dress in my shorts and t-shirt and walk down to the river. On this one particular day, I must have been feeling especially frustrated about living in a trailer down by the river because as I walked barefooted through the muddy grass to the river’s edge, I decided I was sick of seeing that old wasp nest lying on its side on the ground and I gave it a mighty kick. My bare foot sunk deep through the papery layers of the nest and as it was lifting off the ground and into the air it was tearing apart and wasps were pouring out of the shattered mess and looking for the culprit who had just destroyed their home.
Those wasps were mad as hornets! I was instantly engulfed in the swarm and stings were coming so hard, fast and furious all I could do was run, scream and swing my arms. I was wailing like a siren as I tore up the hill and down the road to home. It must have been quite a spectacle for all the residents of the trailer park who saw the skinny kid screaming and running over the speed-bump-riddled road surrounded by a swarm of furious, buzzing insects.
My mom had to swat and kill quite a few wasps which came right into the trailer with or attached to me and were still trying to seek revenge on their home wrecker. When Mom could finally get down to treating my stings it took her hours to cake my wounded body with baking soda plasters. There were lumps and bumps on nearly every inch of my little nine-year-old body; I even had stings between my toes.
The rest of that summer must have been even more boring because I only remember one more visit to the river and that was on the day we moved back to Hinckley. I walked down to look at my rock and the remains of the wasp nest. There wasn’t too much of it left, but the biggest chunk still had a few wasps circling it so I didn’t stay long.


Anonymous said...

oh wow cow chow!! It's a good thing you're not allergic to wasp stinks! That would be so scary! Georgia, thanks for all the wonderful comments you leave on my blog. You are so wonderful. I miss the Crouch family and I can't wait to see you all again hopefully very soon.

Dean and Sheri said...

"Oh wow cow chow!!" ??? Is that my daughter? Sheesh...those roomies have taught her a few interesting things. Hahaha.
And Georgia...every single post you've written has left me envious of your childhood. NOT this one. can keep this childhood adventure!
Oh and...I am sorry. That must have been just horrible for you. I'll bet after the sting and swelling left you had a awful itch every where too. If it makes you feel any better...I sat on an ant hill when I was 4 or 5. A RED ant hill. Got ant bit all over my poor little bum and backs of my legs. I remember screaming and crying. Sometimes I wonder how we survive childhood.