Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wally

I love summer in Wyoming because it means I acquire more pets. They are seasonal pets, like Fred, my Bold Jumping Spider from last fall who I have never seen again but prefer to think of as happily taking up residence under my house where I relocated him after finding him camped out next to my espresso machine. I wish Fred well and I hope one day to encounter him or one of his offspring again. This year I have a bumblebee I have named Wally. I can't be sure if Wally is a he or a she, but Wally is a very pretty little ball of fluff with a red bottom. He lives under the step of my front porch next to my garden. I imagine that is a haven for bumblebees. I have a gigantic rosebush that has overcome some of the worst Wyoming conditions in the last twelve years as well as a patch of yellow columbine that just appeared one day and started growing like wildfire. From what I understand bumblebees are solitary so I identify quite well with Wally. He buzzes around my roses, then my columbine, and finally pays a visit to the neighbor's bright yellow Corvette. I think that distracts him as it is quite bright and Wally seems to forget from day to day that it isn't actually a gigantic flower for him to feed off of. When he's done with his routine – from what I have observed it happens several times a day – he lands back on my front step and crawls into the crack there where his little house must be. My routine is similar, at least on my days off. I buzz around my kitchen, buzz around with my vacuum cleaner, buzz around my laptop pretending I'm actually accomplishing work, and then go find something to eat before stretching out for a nap with the cats. Sometimes I mistakenly think I miss human companionship and go out for a drink where I encounter numerous irritants that send me right back to my little safe haven.

I like to think, however, that solitary as we are, Wally and I enjoy each others' company and our brief encounters. I water and weed his flower patch and took pains to plant a bunch of daisies and sunflowers for his munching enjoyment, so I hope he doesn't think I am a complete waste of time and space. Also if Wally would attempt to broaden his horizons and fly around back he would find a wealth of pansies I have planted in several pots for him to eat himself silly on. Unfortunately this smorgasbord has already been discovered by a bee three times as big as Wally who is not as friendly. I call him the Behemoth as I was quite sure the first time I saw him that a red-tailed hawk was descending upon me.

Tess, my ridiculous over-energetic German shepherd has developed a habit of chasing and snapping at the wasps that try to build nests under my backyard deck so I'm always worried that she will attack and eat the bumblebees as well. She keeps the wasp population down and it is really quite remarkable that she never gets stung. I always expect her mouth to be swollen with the poison of a thousand wasp stings after a particularly good day on the hunt, but she has a talent unlike any I've ever seen. On hot July days I will step outside on my deck only to find it littered with piles of wasp carcasses, crushed and mutilated, some of them still hanging feebly on to the last dredges of their lives, their pitiful wings shredded and fluttering. Tess is merciless with these creatures so I have no doubt as intelligent as she is, she probably can't distinguish – or doesn't care to distinguish – between the wasps and the bumblebees. Luckily for the Behemoth he is roughly her size with wings so she probably wouldn't risk her life to attack him and he spends most of his time high enough up where the pansies hang that she can't reach him anyway. Wally is safe in the front yard with the roses and columbine and his little house under the front step. Tess never goes out there without a leash.

I sincerely hope Wally has every intention of reproducing as the bee population is dwindling and also because I get such great enjoyment of watching him. He likes to tease my friends on the rare occasion that they come over. He will buzz around them, sniff suspiciously at them, before buzzing away again and finding something else to do. I usually have to warn my friends to not swat at him. I don't want him to get mushed. And also to not make him angry as he is an integral part of the local ecosystem as well as my personal entertainment. I imagine bumblebee stings probably do not feel so great and I don't want one of my friends to get angry and kill him because of a misunderstanding. After all Wally, like the dog and the cats, lives here and they do not. I always make accommodations for my guests when they visit regarding the animals – within reason of course – as I do not expect everyone on the planet to love my animals as much as I do, but I do also remind people: they live here. This is their home. Please do not upset the animals and make them uncomfortable in their own home. That goes for the dog and the cats, and it goes for Wally and Fred should he ever appear again, as well as the numerous spiders that hide out in the nooks and crannies of my walls. I do not squash spiders so I do not appreciate it when others come to my house and attempt to do so just out of some misguided assumption that the spiders are “creepy,” “icky,” or “scary.”

I will be sad to see the end of summer because it will also be the end of my relationship with Wally, at least for the season. But for now I will enjoy him and make him as comfortable as possible because, as with any of my pets, I will outlive him. People with pets understand that one must live in the now when living with animals. It is really all we can be sure of with them.

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