The Nest

A note to Eartha Kitt

Dear Ms. Kitt,

I’ve long admired the character of you. Your song. Your acting. Your spirit. And now, your love of nature; it was the one thing that I’d not known about before. And now I do.

I loved your story about your experience as a child, being one that roamed and explored, easily happy in being alone. And I was like that, and I am like that.

And I did (and do) love the hymenoptera: the vespid(ae), the solitary and paper wasps, the masons. All of them in that class I love, and do savor. And they are all the same in their taxonomic grouping, yet they are, as well, all different. Even ants number among them.

But like you, the one thing that I do love is the architecture of their making. So as I wander the island, the neighborhood, the woods, I’ve become a expert sighter of those nests — either live and active, or silent in winter. And if they are live; I’ll watch them, and wait till the cooler seasons come. The queens (the foundress) quiet in hibernation, the drones die out. Friends find them for me as well.

I’ve watched them from the opening single cell, one little egg, one tiny larva, to colonies in Costa Rica that as a big as a kneeling catcher at homeplate sitting atop a tree. I’ve seen grand cascading honeycombs in the jungles of Cambodia, and tiny little miniature water wasps nests in the tree tops of Central America, underground bumblebee galleries and the single bored home (and holes) of the giant black bees of Bali. I’ve spied hanging angry firewasp nests (just as I was reaching out to climb higher) in the swamps of Kauai, and like you, I’ve run like hell to escape the stringing (and stinging) scented attack line of black and white bald-faced wasps chasing me through the forest. I can watch the breeze for wasp lines and follow that winged corridor to a nest. Like you, I’d imagine.

Being one of those people that learned to see in and recognize those warning colors, I’ve not been stung in decades.

But I love how they build their colonies — whatever the type — and friends and family have contributed to these, at my island house, which is up north of Seattle, by some 80 miles.

Here are some images of what they look like, installed.

Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll meet?

Warmest wishes, all ways,

t s g | n y c + s e a t t l e + d e c a t u r i s l a n d

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