yellowjacket

Batting away a hornet hovering next to my legsā€”the softness of its wings. A chipmunk adds its metronome to the chorus of bird calls.

Four degrees above freezing. When I nudge the foot of a hornet clinging to the bottom of the railing, she swings her leg out in a slow arc.

Patches of frost in the yard. A yellow jacket from the underground nest in the garden lands on the shoulder of my sunlit coat.

A honeybee lands on the porch railing, and seconds later, a hornet lands four inches away. When the bee takes flight, so does the hornet.

The hornets stream in and out of their hole in the garden, departing to the south, returning from the east. A towhee calling in the dogwood.

A hornet nuzzles my arm like a hoverfly but doesn’t sting. In the garden, the buzz of hummingbirds dueling over scraps of bloom.

Weeding the garden is never dull. Yesterday morning a milk snake writhed around my wrist; today, hornets boil up and sting my hand.