Care to Dance?




It's hard to refuse the invitation when Nature calls the tune.

On a beautiful fall day I took a walk in the Exeter woods with my 6-year-old daughter Grace and my boyfriend Tom. We walked along the trail that curved around a beaver's pond, then up and down tree-covered drumlins, generously sprinkled with granite boulders.

Grace chased Tom's two big black dogs as they sped back and forth trying to follow a thousand different scent trails at once. We crossed paths with several mountain bikers, dogs and walkers.

We arrived at our halfway point, Fort Rock. Tom and Grace climbed up the steep boulders as the dogs tried to follow. I stood below sharing pleasant warnings of the potential for broken skulls. No one listened.

Finally, the daredevil climbing was done and we headed back through the autumn woods. We stopped to watch a noisy murder of crows harassing a hawk. Then it happened.

Tom slapped his head and did a little jig as he tried to grasp his back. He is not the type of man to do any kind of jig. But the dance had begun. Yellowjackets. "Run! Yellowjackets!" shouted Tom.

The brave man did not wait for us. He sped ahead down the trail swatting the air and his body. He didn't even lose speed when he removed his shirt and chucked it in a tree.

We tried not to laugh and gave a half-hearted pursuit of the yellowjackets' only prey. Then I felt it. It was like someone had driven a nail into my shoulder. "AHHHHH!" I cried. Grace gaped at me. "Run!" I said.

"AHH! AHH! AHH!" I yelled as more stingers got me. "Take your shirt off!" yelled Tom from down the trail. I whipped off my shirt and joined the dance, a fast and painful dance with no room for modesty.

Finally, we outran the little %#$@*%! I tried to catch my breath between hysterical giggles. "You're not dressed," said Grace. "Nice bra," said Tom. With my arms I covered the only flimsy lacy bra that I own. Why didn't I wear one of my sports bras?

"Ow! Ow!" Grace yelled grabbing her legs. The dance was not over. I ran to her and whipped off her pants full of angry yellowjackets.

"Run!" we all said. We took off again, the half-naked clan.

We stopped by a large boulder. Tom stared down at the back of my sweatshirt that was still around my waist. "Get it off!" he yelled. It was covered in dance partners. Grace and Tom ran away.

I whipped it off and another yellowjacket sank its little nail gun into my back. "Owww!" I cried as I accomplished a running jig.

One last set and the dance was done. The dogs had raced along, stopped, raced along again and stopped each time we did for the entire dance. "What fun!" their slobbery happy faces said.

Half-naked girls waited on a rock while the half-naked boy went to look for our clothes. He came back with bad news. The clothes were still covered with our nasty dance companions.

My daughter had two shirts on so I forced one of them over my head. Wow, my first belly shirt. In the '80s I never dared to wear one. Well, this was my day.

Miraculously, our motley crew made its way out of the woods without one encounter of the human kind.

Some family outings are memorable. Some dances are the dance of a lifetime. I know that we'll never forget the thrill of Dancing with Yellowjackets. NH

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