In case you missed the stories, murder hornets have come ashore in the Pacific Northwest. The Asian giant hornet, Vespa Mandirinia, a name that combines a car and a culture, mirror a horror movie: at two inches in length, it’s the biggest hornet in the world. The murder hornet’s heart beats – ok, it doesn’t have a heart, physically or metaphorically – within a fiery orange-yellow head, massive, protruding eyes, menacing, extra-long stingers, and a black-and-yellow striped body, like a mad-dog prison escapee.
As if honeybees haven’t had a tough enough time with colony collapse disorder and all the poison we put on our lawns, now they have to face a new age of hornets guillotining them. Vespa Mandirinia rip the heads off honeybees, digest them, and regurgitate them to their young.
Honeybees aren’t the only item on the menu. Murder hornets like people too. They kill at least 50 people a year in Japan.
Now I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news; really who likes to be the bearer of bad news? Well, except my late mother-in-law, a New Yorker who would call at certain times of the year and leave a message on our answering machine with the line, “Guess who died?”
We have to wake up.
Murder hornets aren’t the first killing machine to wade into the west; the coronavirus slipped into California early – not Seattle as previously thought, but Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco and home to Silicon Valley and San Jose – where it killed two people in early February. Later in February, three people died in the Seattle area. From then to now, almost 70,000 people – and those are only the ones we know for certain – have been recorded in the United States.
No matter how much money anybody has, including the federal government, there’s no building a wall to keep Mother Nature out. Some folks are saying that pinning the exponential growth of these death machines on the ire of Mother Nature is unfair; shit happens, essentially.
I agree: Mother Nature isn’t killing us. We’re killing ourselves. Stealthily, methodically, gradually, the damage we have wreaked is doing away with the human race. I realize that droughts, floods, locust swarms, tidal waves, earthquakes and tornados have been clearing the land of humans for centuries. But not in these proportions. This is epidemic. Humongous. Whatever synonyms you can devise for big, mad, and heart-in-the-throat-run-for-your-life devastating. Because if the honeybee population disappears, so do we.
I look out at my yard this morning, at my gardens in first bloom. The hostas stretch through the earth toward the sun, light rimming their splayed green leaves. Azalea buds pop purple on a bush; airy spikes of lilac burst into the air. I hear the whispers of the garden: the birds chatter to one another. The squirrel stops for a moment to chomp into an acorn that has been marinating in cold and wet all winter. A field mouse skitters down a brick path, poking its nose into the pachysandra to sniff.
I am joyful, grateful for their presence. I imagine welcoming all of them every year. But that is my assumption, never my guarantee.
You know what you have to do. I don’t need to lecture you on this. Besides, this is a writing blog. Therefore, a request for writing is imperative. Here it is:
Think of a being that is part of nature: A tree, a shrub, an animal, the sun, the, stars, a worm. Write 500 words on what that organism means to you and why. If you wish, make it a character in a story. Describe the symbiotic relationships you have with this living being; tell of your interactions, your observations, your emotions. Tell me its colors, its shape, how it moves. Do whatever you want; the aforementioned are simply suggestions. But write.
Read your story aloud to the being about which you have written. Shout to the stars. Talk to the tree. Track that worm down and let it know how much you appreciate the work it’s doing. Let your words be your prayer to the universe.
If you are a participant, former or present, in the Candlelight Writing Workshops, share your story with me.
You may not hear from me, but know, truly, that I have read it.