Summer mornings on the porch can be an incredible way to start the day. Lots of peace and quiet, and a bit of nature noise mix to be just the right balance. This was one of the first mornings that the weather has been near perfect. Finally the sun is peeking out, the temperature is in the sixties and the mosquitoes are not too thick. (In general, they have not been a problem at all. Usually at this time of the year, they cluster all over our screens in the mornings. I've not seen many.)
So a cup of tea in the early day and a good book were all I needed to get things started properly. The book I am currently reading is The Gunflint Cabin, by our neighbor, John Henricksson. It is a recounting of cabin life in our neighborhood here on Gunflint Lake, and in general of the cabin tradition in Minnesota. I was smiling in parts, as I read of folks I know, and stories both old and new. Overall, a good way to get going. The white-throated sparrows, chickadees, blue jays and warblers provided just enough background music. A loon gave a shout-out. All was peaceful, until I noticed an extra level of buzzing.
Bald-faced hornets love to build nests in the most inconvenient places. I think they are rather like beavers and their dams in that respect. For many years, some very industrious beavers kept a good dam built up on Little Gunflint Lake. The lake narrows down to a river-wide passage, and the water is shallow there. The beavers live in a large house on the Canadian side, and they find it necessary to dam up the water in order to keep their house at a respectable level of submergence. At least, that is what I think. That, and the fact that beavers just love to stay busy. They would cut and haul one tree after another to close up the channel. Folks in boats and canoes would have to push, pull and sometimes get out of the watercraft, in order to cross over the dam. Definitely under the "inconvenient nuisance" category.
The hornets just happen to like places that are inaccessible for humans like me, but are still a little too close for my comfort. While sitting in my chair, I looked up to see an active hive, with three or four hornets working on it. It was right above my head. For a short time, we struck up a truce, with me continuing to read and sip tea, and them buzzing about doing their construction work. But when Greg decided to come out and join me, they didn't agree with the changes to the terms. Pretty soon a sentinel came to check us out, flying all around, and in particular, behind us. I tried to sit frozen for the most part, especially when the buzzing would quit and I knew that he had landed. When he lighted on the porch floor in front of Greg, he had made his fatal mistake. With a quick landing of the foot, he was a goner. The guys up above buzzed louder with the reverberations. They didn't venture down to us, though. Maybe they learned something?
At any rate, this evening the hive will be no more. When clearing out a problem like this, nightfall is the best opportunity. It doesn't have to involve chemicals or complete clothing coverage, as the critters are fairly harmless after dark. Tonight we'll knock down the hive, and the workers will need to find new living quarters. Then my mornings on the porch can continue in relative peace and safety.