Ha, Ha, Ha! Stupid Man Goes Boom!

Figs, Fig Beetles, A Step Ladder, and Me

What Not To Do When You Fall Out of Your Treestand
A Figeater Beetle from the National History Museum https://nhm.org/stories/when-fig-beetles-attack

It was a beautiful morning.  I had a perfect view of the bright blue sky and the puffy white clouds chasing each other across it.  I turned my head to the left and noted the grass was a well-manicured, deep green and thankfully plush against my back.  To my right was a somewhat mangled step ladder.

I was reminded of the many times I lay in the grass as a child watching clouds, attempting to imagine what their shapes might be.  I might see a horse, or the North American continent maybe.  Chewing on a piece of grass watching Lassie with Timmy giving chase across the sky.  Godzilla headed toward Tokyo to stomp it flat.  This was not one of those times.

My mother-in-law has a huuuuuge fig tree.  Not just huge…it is huuuuuge!  And it is loaded with figs.  Three pickings into August and there are still ‘all the figs in the world’…plus one.  There are also all the yellow jackets, wasps, and huge figeater beetles in the world.  “Every rose has its thorns” and every fig tree little stinging bastards or beetles…big green, droning beetles with the grace of a C-17 Globemaster.  Maybe the weight too.

I hate to be wasteful and there seemed to be thousands of figs just out of reach, dangling just above my outstretched hand.  Enough to fill a dozen or more canning jars with preserves and enough left over for roasted figs in balsamic vinegar wrapped in prosciutto, or honey-fried figs smothering a buttered, cathead biscuit.  All I needed was the step ladder…and a biscuit.

I was doing well, balancing myself on the step ladder.  The little neighbor kid watching from the fence. A child of four or five.

I’d picked two Walmart bags full of figs.  Shake the limb so any biting bastards would skedaddle…but the fig beetles, some were slow to move…and even slower to change direction.  They isssss huuuuge too…some an inch long!  Lawdy mercy.  Big and metallic green, they have the agility of a drunken elephant.  It also appears they are easily confused.

These droning, drunken beetles are scarabs.  The same scarabs made famous by the ancient Egyptians.  The same family of beetles that includes dung beetles that spend their days rolling cow poop into little balls.  They are known to bury two-hundred and fifty times their weight in dung in one night. 

Why I asked myself.  Wish I had not asked.  They eat poop and hollow out the balls as a mating chamber.  How romantic.  What wine goes with poop?

Dung Beetle chilling on a dung ball. http://www.livescience.com

They are hard-bodied, not so little, muthaf@#$as that will knock you off a step ladder when they make solid contact directly between your eyes. 

I moved more slowly than it did, but I moved which caused the step ladder to mimic a drunken sailor bouncing off of alleyway walls.  Not so suddenly, I was laying in the grass watching clouds chase each other across a brilliant blue sky…and why I’m sitting here icing a shoulder and a hip.

What really intrigued me was how long it took me to fall from the fourth or fifth step of the ten-foot step ladder to the ground where I landed with a thump and a bounce.  In my mind I heard the kid snicker, “Stupid man went boom…ha, ha, ha!” 

I understand gravity, bodies accelerate at nine point eight meters per second squared.  With nothing to impede your fall, like say air or fig tree limbs, a body will accelerate at nine point eight meters per second for every second the body falls until it reaches terminal velocity. 

Newton lied!  It took me forever to fall from up there to down there and my feet were no more than a meter and a half, say six or eight feet, off the ground.  Well, they were probably higher when my feet and head exchanged places.  Thankfully, I never reached a terminal velocity, just a painful one.

I had time to think through my entire life story…but I did not.  While falling to my death, I did not want to think about why the little blond threw me over in the eighth grade. 

Instead, I thought about how stupid I was to get knocked off a step ladder by a big dung rolling bug. I still had time to plan on executing a tuck and roll when I hit.  Funny, it was more a flounder and flop in a cloud of dust…except there was no dust, just wet grass. “Ha, ha, ha! Stupid man goes boom!” Again the four-year-old in my head laughed.

Suddenly, there was the question, “Am I ever going to breathe again?”  That old air just exploded right out of my lungs.  Lawdy Mercy!  Logically, I knew if I just let myself pass out; I would breathe again…maybe.

The next few minutes were spent evaluating pain.  I’m still evaluating.  Painful bruise on the hip but not too bad…vivid colors to come.  My shoulder took the brunt of my death dive.  It hurts bigly! 

I worry I might have torn a rotator cuff.  That would be bad, I still have hopes of pitching in the Bigs…well, maybe I can try out for America’s Got Talent…me and my dancing step ladder.  Fig beetles will be not be allowed. 

Figeater Beetles on a Fig. Picture from wwwgardenbetty.com

Featured image was taken by Julian Paul and appeared in Wide Open Spaces: https://www.wideopenspaces.com/what-not-to-do-when-you-fall-out-of-your-treestand/

Don Miller is a retired teacher and coach who has taken up writing for his own amusement. He writes on various subjects and in various genres. Some would say he can’t figure out what he wants to be. His author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2I89J5GhYSWyipVxhVM2uJ16pfbTOd6lpYyuWOE6iBVwhvj7GKq2QubU0

  

Buck Nekked in the Bean Patch…Revisited

It is that time of the year.  The corn is high and filled out, and the raccoons and deer have not devastated it yet.  Green beans are producing more than I ever want to eat.  My zucchini is doing what it normally does, nothing.  I may be the only person in the world who can’t grow zucchini.  I have had six plants produce exactly five zucchini squash.  The tomatoes were put in late and I’m still waiting for my first BLT with a home-grown tomato.

Butter beans need to be picked and the flying, biting, stinging critters are so thick you “can’t stir ‘em with a stick”.  The thick, moist air is suddenly filled with a droning and it’s not a passing motorcycle or airplane.  The big-bodied hornet drones by, ignoring me this time, but I am reminded of a time when I was not so lucky…and neither was the church bus.

Buck Nekked in the Bean Patch…With Apologies to the Church Bus

My apologies.  There are times when it is okay to show your naked, lily-white derriere. Taking a bath or shower, weighing oneself, sleeping in the buff, skinny dippin’, or participating in faire l’amour…which I guess the last two or three could be related.

I would say, unless you are in a nudist colony, baring your butt outdoors in your bean patch ain’t one of those times.  ‘Specially if your bean patch is adjacent to a well-traveled highway.

My apologies are for the three carloads of ‘tourons’ and the loaded church bus passing by while I was attempting to get out of my shorts and skivvies.  My intent was to run and get behind my small stand of raccoon ravaged corn before I actually stripped.

I was em-bare-assed because it is hard to get out of your shorts if you are not trying to get out of your boots first.  There just wasn’t time and I didn’t quite make it.

I was em-bare-assed because there were no cheers emanating from any of those vehicles as I displayed my butt and other body parts.  I guess it could have been the shock.

I was also em-bare-assed by the face and head plant into the crooked necked squash plants when my boots became tangled in my shorts.  It could have been worse; the cops could have shown up or the bus might have wreaked.

In a previous post, I admitted weed-eating while wearing shorts because I found myself to be less susceptible to multiple yellow jacket stings that way.  Well…to be honest I wear shorts all the time this time of year unless I am picking blackberries or raspberries.

One of the devil’s stinging minions decided my pant leg would be a great place to fly up and into.  Note to self, when wearing shorts and working in the garden, choose jockey style underwear and not boxer style.  With the little bastard zeroing in on my soft inner thigh, just under my dangling body parts, one might understand why I was not too concerned with em-bare-assing myself.

Sometime later, as I was readjusted my clothes and inspected body parts behind the stand of corn, I remembered a childhood experience.  At a young age, four or five, I had followed my grandmother into her garden.  As I did whatever four or five-year-old children do, I noticed my grandmother’s movements suddenly becoming reminiscent of a body being possessed by some devilish spirit.

Her gyrations were quite violent and featured a lot of slapping and yelling.  Suddenly, to my surprise, she began stripping off her feed sack dress in the attempt to rid herself of what we called a Russian hornet.  It had flown up her dress and was in attack mode.  Her revelations did not scar me for life, but I was momentarily struck blind by her whiteness.  “Them” body parts ain’t never, ever seen the light of day.

Oh well, in case you were wondering, I avoided major injury or a hornet sting to my physical person.  I do not know how but assume the Lord took mercy upon my bare assed, lily-white soul.

My pride might have been damaged a bit…and I do not think some of the crooked neck squash plants will recover…hope the folks on the church bus survive without any major mental distress.

The original Buck Nekkid in the Bean Patch is contained within the book “Cornfields…in my mind”  which may be purchased in paperback or ebook at https://www.amazon.com/Cornfields-My-Mind-Don-Miller/dp/1980783926.

The image is not of my bean patch, it would have been better if it was, I could have hidden behind it.  The image is from http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?language=2&Display=265&resolution=high

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2xCJfJ2g8EJ67nGS7i5lqp0QZqicUuyk0rNLM0jkfbhMdhUCie0ws0p_M