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The Bee Tree

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  • Gerry Merck
    The Bee Tree Fireworks were strictly a spectator sport until the summer I turned nine. That was the summer the cousins introduced us country bumpkins to
    Message 1 of 4 , Jan 4, 2011
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                                                                          The Bee Tree                

                    Fireworks were strictly a spectator sport until the summer I turned nine.  That was the summer the cousins introduced us country bumpkins to pyrotechnics and cherry bombs!  The cousins were part of the wonderful predictability of our childhood.  As regular as holidays, they came every summer with their shiny red hair and exotic tales of life on the beaches of coastal Carolina, to visit our grandparents in the foothills of North Carolina.  They brought with them a special brand of mischief that made our summers sparkle!

           Ever so much more sophisticated than we, they arrived at our doorstep that Fourth of July with a carefully guarded paper bag and that guess-what-I-got twinkle in their eyes.  Huddled in the tall grass behind the corncrib, they dumped their treasure in a pile for us to see ~ fireworks and a box of Diamond Brand kitchen matches!  We were mesmerized!  There was all kinds of exploding stuff!  Fire crackers, bottle rockets and the legendary CHERRY BOMBS!  None of which our mother would have allowed us to handle, even if fireworks had been legal in Rutherford County in 1962.  So, with the bag carefully hidden in Andy’s plaid shirt we sneaked off into the pasture to try them out!  And,  that is where city and country collided.

                Sure, the Cousins had their fancy city-bought fireworks, but we had something special too!  We had (drum roll here) ~ the Bee Tree!  Down in the bottomland, just on the other side of the creek stood an old tree stump, just about a foot taller than our heads.  It was rotted dead wood, so dry that it crumbled like sawdust in a strong wind.  There, a colony of industrious bumblebees had built a nest in an abandoned woodpecker hole.   A nearly constant stream of bees flew in and out of the hole, zooming in from all directions.  The bee tree had been our magnificent secret for about a week and we were chomping at the bit to show off our prize.  As night follows day we headed there first, which is how the fireworks and the bee tree came to be in the same place at the same time.

                We stood and watched for a while, ducking occasionally as we crossed paths with the bees, until the cousins were sufficiently impressed.  I don’t know whose idea it was, and it doesn’t really matter.  Any one of us would have thought of it eventually.  And what an idea it was!  It had all the elements required for adventure…secrecy, danger, bravery,

      and…surprise!

                 The boys went first, daring each other to walk up to the bee tree, light a cherry bomb and stick it into the hole.  Andy went first, then Buddy and then Kim. One by one, they failed; each getting closer than the next, only to stop short when a bee sailed in, dropping the fireworks at the foot of the tree while the rest of us crowed with laughter!  Each failed attempt reverberated through the deadwood!  Understandably, after five or six attempts the bees were more than a little agitated, they were pissed!  The whole lot of them had begun to swarm and a low hum rose ominously from the center of the stump.

                  Not that I would have noticed; lost in my own agenda, I had been patiently waiting for the opportunity to prove that being a girl is not a handicap!  This concept had recently become the bane of my nine-year old existence.   I was, frankly, indignant at having to stand by while the boys had all the fun, and getting more determined by the minute to show them up.  So when it came my turn, I marched straight up to the bee tree, lit the cherry bomb and with no difficulty at all dropped it right into the hole. Wow!  Right into the hole on my very first try!  Was I the hero or what!   With a cocky grin on my face, I turned with a bow to receive the glory that was my due.   And, just about that time the cherry bomb went off with a sound like a muffled thunderclap. The whole, danged tree exploded - and it blew bumblebees from Hell to breakfast!   Bees went everywhere!

               Pandemonium and bedlam broke out as kids went flying through the bushes, jumping, squealing, and swatting bees as they ran, tearing through the thickets in all directions!  I can still hear the furious buzzing of bees caught in my hair and on my clothes as I landed belly-first in six inches of muddy creek water.  I was lucky.  Only one bee found its mark on my left shoulder.  I lay there, in the water, with my eyes closed tight, like an ostrich with its head in the sand, hoping the dazed insects wouldn’t notice, as the sound of fleeing children faded in the distance.

               Later, we all convened back at the farmhouse.  In the shade of the oak trees, we shared the story of our great escape and compared bee stings, scratches, scrapes and bruises ~ groaning with the pain and hilarity of it!  We had each lived to tell the tale!  Swaggering under the weight of our collective adventure, we toasted each other with orange Kool-Aid in paper cups and laughed like soldiers, drunk on the wine of another summer together.

       

             

       


    • Amy Rissna Thompson
      Dear Gerry, That was a great childhood adventure. It’s amazing how many wonderful things happen when we were young. Thanks for sharing your story. Amy
      Message 2 of 4 , Jan 4, 2011
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        Dear Gerry,

        That was a great childhood adventure. It’s amazing how many wonderful things happen when we were young. Thanks for sharing your story.


        Amy



        De: Gerry Merck <gerrymerck@...>
        Para: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com
        Enviado: mar, enero 4, 2011 6:00:54 AM
        Asunto: [ticket2write] The Bee Tree

         

                                                                            The Bee Tree                

                      Fireworks were strictly a spectator sport until the summer I turned nine.  That was the summer the cousins introduced us country bumpkins to pyrotechnics and cherry bombs!  The cousins were part of the wonderful predictability of our childhood.  As regular as holidays, they came every summer with their shiny red hair and exotic tales of life on the beaches of coastal Carolina, to visit our grandparents in the foothills of North Carolina.  They brought with them a special brand of mischief that made our summers sparkle!

             Ever so much more sophisticated than we, they arrived at our doorstep that Fourth of July with a carefully guarded paper bag and that guess-what-I-got twinkle in their eyes.  Huddled in the tall grass behind the corncrib, they dumped their treasure in a pile for us to see ~ fireworks and a box of Diamond Brand kitchen matches!  We were mesmerized!  There was all kinds of exploding stuff!  Fire crackers, bottle rockets and the legendary CHERRY BOMBS!  None of which our mother would have allowed us to handle, even if fireworks had been legal in Rutherford County in 1962.  So, with the bag carefully hidden in Andy’s plaid shirt we sneaked off into the pasture to try them out!  And,  that is where city and country collided.

                  Sure, the Cousins had their fancy city-bought fireworks, but we had something special too!  We had (drum roll here) ~ the Bee Tree!  Down in the bottomland, just on the other side of the creek stood an old tree stump, just about a foot taller than our heads.  It was rotted dead wood, so dry that it crumbled like sawdust in a strong wind.  There, a colony of industrious bumblebees had built a nest in an abandoned woodpecker hole.   A nearly constant stream of bees flew in and out of the hole, zooming in from all directions.  The bee tree had been our magnificent secret for about a week and we were chomping at the bit to show off our prize.  As night follows day we headed there first, which is how the fireworks and the bee tree came to be in the same place at the same time.

                  We stood and watched for a while, ducking occasionally as we crossed paths with the bees, until the cousins were sufficiently impressed.  I don’t know whose idea it was, and it doesn’t really matter.  Any one of us would have thought of it eventually.  And what an idea it was!  It had all the elements required for adventure…secrecy, danger, bravery,

        and…surprise!

                   The boys went first, daring each other to walk up to the bee tree, light a cherry bomb and stick it into the hole.  Andy went first, then Buddy and then Kim. One by one, they failed; each getting closer than the next, only to stop short when a bee sailed in, dropping the fireworks at the foot of the tree while the rest of us crowed with laughter!  Each failed attempt reverberated through the deadwood!  Understandably, after five or six attempts the bees were more than a little agitated, they were pissed!  The whole lot of them had begun to swarm and a low hum rose ominously from the center of the stump.

                    Not that I would have noticed; lost in my own agenda, I had been patiently waiting for the opportunity to prove that being a girl is not a handicap!  This concept had recently become the bane of my nine-year old existence.   I was, frankly, indignant at having to stand by while the boys had all the fun, and getting more determined by the minute to show them up.  So when it came my turn, I marched straight up to the bee tree, lit the cherry bomb and with no difficulty at all dropped it right into the hole. Wow!  Right into the hole on my very first try!  Was I the hero or what!   With a cocky grin on my face, I turned with a bow to receive the glory that was my due.   And, just about that time the cherry bomb went off with a sound like a muffled thunderclap. The whole, danged tree exploded - and it blew bumblebees from Hell to breakfast!   Bees went everywhere!

                 Pandemonium and bedlam broke out as kids went flying through the bushes, jumping, squealing, and swatting bees as they ran, tearing through the thickets in all directions!  I can still hear the furious buzzing of bees caught in my hair and on my clothes as I landed belly-first in six inches of muddy creek water.  I was lucky.  Only one bee found its mark on my left shoulder.  I lay there, in the water, with my eyes closed tight, like an ostrich with its head in the sand, hoping the dazed insects wouldn’t notice, as the sound of fleeing children faded in the distance.

                 Later, we all convened back at the farmhouse.  In the shade of the oak trees, we shared the story of our great escape and compared bee stings, scratches, scrapes and bruises ~ groaning with the pain and hilarity of it!  We had each lived to tell the tale!  Swaggering under the weight of our collective adventure, we toasted each other with orange Kool-Aid in paper cups and laughed like soldiers, drunk on the wine of another summer together.

         

               

         



         
      • Susan Donahue
        Dear Gerry, I love your stories. Could a collection come together? People tend to appreciate stories of this kind, especially with a Southern flavor. I am
        Message 3 of 4 , Jan 5, 2011
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          Dear Gerry,

          I love your stories. Could a collection come together? People tend to appreciate stories of this kind, especially with a Southern flavor.
          I am looking forward to more.

          Suzianne


          --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, Gerry Merck <gerrymerck@...> wrote:
          >
          > The Bee
          > Tree
          > Fireworks were strictly a spectator sport until the summer I
          > turned nine. That was the summer the cousins introduced us country bumpkins to
          > pyrotechnics and cherry bombs! The cousins were part of the wonderful
          > predictability of our childhood. As regular as holidays, they came every summer
          > with their shiny red hair and exotic tales of life on the beaches of coastal
          > Carolina, to visit our grandparents in the foothills of North Carolina. They
          > brought with them a special brand of mischief that made our summers sparkle!
          >
          > Ever so much more sophisticated than we, they arrived at our doorstep that
          > Fourth of July with a carefully guarded paper bag and that guess-what-I-got
          > twinkle in their eyes. Huddled in the tall grass behind the corncrib, they
          > dumped their treasure in a pile for us to see ~ fireworks and a box of Diamond
          > Brand kitchen matches! We were mesmerized! There was all kinds of exploding
          > stuff! Fire crackers, bottle rockets and the legendary CHERRY BOMBS! None of
          > which our mother would have allowed us to handle, even if fireworks had been
          > legal in Rutherford County in 1962. So, with the bag carefully hidden in Andy’s
          > plaid shirt we sneaked off into the pasture to try them out! And, that is
          > where city and country collided.
          > Sure, the Cousins had their fancy city-bought fireworks, but we had
          > something special too! We had (drum roll here) ~ the Bee Tree! Down in the
          > bottomland, just on the other side of the creek stood an old tree stump, just
          > about a foot taller than our heads. It was rotted dead wood, so dry that it
          > crumbled like sawdust in a strong wind. There, a colony of industrious
          > bumblebees had built a nest in an abandoned woodpecker hole. A nearly constant
          > stream of bees flew in and out of the hole, zooming in from all directions. The
          > bee tree had been our magnificent secret for about a week and we were chomping
          > at the bit to show off our prize. As night follows day we headed there first,
          > which is how the fireworks and the bee tree came to be in the same place at the
          > same time.
          > We stood and watched for a while, ducking occasionally as we crossed
          > paths with the bees, until the cousins were sufficiently impressed. I don’t
          > know whose idea it was, and it doesn’t really matter. Any one of us would have
          > thought of it eventually. And what an idea it was! It had all the elements
          > required for adventure…secrecy, danger, bravery,
          > and…surprise!
          > The boys went first, daring each other to walk up to the bee tree,
          > light a cherry bomb and stick it into the hole. Andy went first, then Buddy and
          > then Kim. One by one, they failed; each getting closer than the next, only to
          > stop short when a bee sailed in, dropping the fireworks at the foot of the tree
          > while the rest of us crowed with laughter! Each failed attempt reverberated
          > through the deadwood! Understandably, after five or six attempts the bees were
          > more than a little agitated, they were pissed! The whole lot of them had begun
          > to swarm and a low hum rose ominously from the center of the stump.
          > Not that I would have noticed; lost in my own agenda, I had been
          > patiently waiting for the opportunity to prove that being a girl is not a
          > handicap! This concept had recently become the bane of my nine-year old
          > existence. I was, frankly, indignant at having to stand by while the boys had
          > all the fun, and getting more determined by the minute to show them up. So when
          > it came my turn, I marched straight up to the bee tree, lit the cherry bomb and
          > with no difficulty at all dropped it right into the hole. Wow! Right into the
          > hole on my very first try! Was I the hero or what! With a cocky grin on my
          > face, I turned with a bow to receive the glory that was my due. And, just
          > about that time the cherry bomb went off with a sound like a muffled
          > thunderclap. The whole, danged tree exploded - and it blew bumblebees from Hell
          > to breakfast! Bees went everywhere!
          > Pandemonium and bedlam broke out as kids went flying through the
          > bushes, jumping, squealing, and swatting bees as they ran, tearing through the
          > thickets in all directions! I can still hear the furious buzzing of bees caught
          > in my hair and on my clothes as I landed belly-first in six inches of muddy
          > creek water. I was lucky. Only one bee found its mark on my left shoulder. I
          > lay there, in the water, with my eyes closed tight, like an ostrich with its
          > head in the sand, hoping the dazed insects wouldn’t notice, as the sound of
          > fleeing children faded in the distance.
          > Later, we all convened back at the farmhouse. In the shade of the oak
          > trees, we shared the story of our great escape and compared bee stings,
          > scratches, scrapes and bruises ~ groaning with the pain and hilarity of it! We
          > had each lived to tell the tale! Swaggering under the weight of our collective
          > adventure, we toasted each other with orange Kool-Aid in paper cups and laughed
          > like soldiers, drunk on the wine of another summer together.
          >
        • Gerry Merck
          Dear Susan...thank you for your kind words. I am working on that collection. I am going to post another. It is called Of Mice and Menopause about an
          Message 4 of 4 , Jan 5, 2011
          • 0 Attachment
            Dear Susan...thank you for your kind words.  I am working on that collection.  I am going to post another.  It is called "Of Mice and Menopause" about an incident that happened when my mother was going through "the change."  It is a little different than the others...not as polished...but one of the stories my brothers and sisters and I love to tell! We all remember it like it was yesterday.  I am still working on it.  Suggestions welcome...
            Gerry



            From: Susan Donahue <suzianne411@...>
            To: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Wed, January 5, 2011 2:30:54 PM
            Subject: [ticket2write] Re: The Bee Tree

             

            Dear Gerry,

            I love your stories. Could a collection come together? People tend to appreciate stories of this kind, especially with a Southern flavor.
            I am looking forward to more.

            Suzianne

            --- In ticket2write@yahoogroups.com, Gerry Merck <gerrymerck@...> wrote:
            >
            > The Bee
            > Tree
            > Fireworks were strictly a spectator sport until the summer I
            > turned nine. That was the summer the cousins introduced us country bumpkins to
            > pyrotechnics and cherry bombs! The cousins were part of the wonderful
            > predictability of our childhood. As regular as holidays, they came every summer
            > with their shiny red hair and exotic tales of life on the beaches of coastal
            > Carolina, to visit our grandparents in the foothills of North Carolina. They
            > brought with them a special brand of mischief that made our summers sparkle!
            >
            > Ever so much more sophisticated than we, they arrived at our doorstep that
            > Fourth of July with a carefully guarded paper bag and that guess-what-I-got
            > twinkle in their eyes. Huddled in the tall grass behind the corncrib, they
            > dumped their treasure in a pile for us to see ~ fireworks and a box of Diamond
            > Brand kitchen matches! We were mesmerized! There was all kinds of exploding
            > stuff! Fire crackers, bottle rockets and the legendary CHERRY BOMBS! None of
            > which our mother would have allowed us to handle, even if fireworks had been
            > legal in Rutherford County in 1962. So, with the bag carefully hidden in Andy’s
            > plaid shirt we sneaked off into the pasture to try them out! And, that is
            > where city and country collided.
            > Sure, the Cousins had their fancy city-bought fireworks, but we had
            > something special too! We had (drum roll here) ~ the Bee Tree! Down in the
            > bottomland, just on the other side of the creek stood an old tree stump, just
            > about a foot taller than our heads. It was rotted dead wood, so dry that it
            > crumbled like sawdust in a strong wind. There, a colony of industrious
            > bumblebees had built a nest in an abandoned woodpecker hole. A nearly constant
            > stream of bees flew in and out of the hole, zooming in from all directions. The
            > bee tree had been our magnificent secret for about a week and we were chomping
            > at the bit to show off our prize. As night follows day we headed there first,
            > which is how the fireworks and the bee tree came to be in the same place at the
            > same time.
            > We stood and watched for a while, ducking occasionally as we crossed
            > paths with the bees, until the cousins were sufficiently impressed. I don’t
            > know whose idea it was, and it doesn’t really matter. Any one of us would have
            > thought of it eventually. And what an idea it was! It had all the elements
            > required for adventure…secrecy, danger, bravery,
            > and…surprise!
            > The boys went first, daring each other to walk up to the bee tree,
            > light a cherry bomb and stick it into the hole. Andy went first, then Buddy and
            > then Kim. One by one, they failed; each getting closer than the next, only to
            > stop short when a bee sailed in, dropping the fireworks at the foot of the tree
            > while the rest of us crowed with laughter! Each failed attempt reverberated
            > through the deadwood! Understandably, after five or six attempts the bees were
            > more than a little agitated, they were pissed! The whole lot of them had begun
            > to swarm and a low hum rose ominously from the center of the stump.
            > Not that I would have noticed; lost in my own agenda, I had been
            > patiently waiting for the opportunity to prove that being a girl is not a
            > handicap! This concept had recently become the bane of my nine-year old
            > existence. I was, frankly, indignant at having to stand by while the boys had
            > all the fun, and getting more determined by the minute to show them up. So when
            > it came my turn, I marched straight up to the bee tree, lit the cherry bomb and
            > with no difficulty at all dropped it right into the hole. Wow! Right into the
            > hole on my very first try! Was I the hero or what! With a cocky grin on my
            > face, I turned with a bow to receive the glory that was my due. And, just
            > about that time the cherry bomb went off with a sound like a muffled
            > thunderclap. The whole, danged tree exploded - and it blew bumblebees from Hell
            > to breakfast! Bees went everywhere!
            > Pandemonium and bedlam broke out as kids went flying through the
            > bushes, jumping, squealing, and swatting bees as they ran, tearing through the
            > thickets in all directions! I can still hear the furious buzzing of bees caught
            > in my hair and on my clothes as I landed belly-first in six inches of muddy
            > creek water. I was lucky. Only one bee found its mark on my left shoulder. I
            > lay there, in the water, with my eyes closed tight, like an ostrich with its
            > head in the sand, hoping the dazed insects wouldn’t notice, as the sound of
            > fleeing children faded in the distance.
            > Later, we all convened back at the farmhouse. In the shade of the oak
            > trees, we shared the story of our great escape and compared bee stings,
            > scratches, scrapes and bruises ~ groaning with the pain and hilarity of it! We
            > had each lived to tell the tale! Swaggering under the weight of our collective
            > adventure, we toasted each other with orange Kool-Aid in paper cups and laughed
            > like soldiers, drunk on the wine of another summer together.
            >


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