Cutting the side lawn with my noisy gas mower, I feel a sharp sting on my left heal, then the right calf then the belly.
I let out a roar and run speedily to the house.
I still hear buzzing as I remove t-shirt, pants, shoes, socks. The vagrant Eastern Yellowjacket hits the glass door in flight, drops to the floor, where my wife and I sweep him out.
Tending to the stings and their growing welts with ice packs and healing clay, taking anti-inflammatories, sitting still.
Stopped in the tracks of my to-do list.
Stung to attention by a life form for whom I was an existential threat.
Remembering the yellowjackets I had seen earlier in the week.
Remembering how they like to nest in burrows dug beneath decomposing tree stumps.
Remembering how I had mowed right over one such stump patch, and how the stinging started soon after.
Wikipedia tells me that Eastern Yellowjackets can become actively aggressive in the face of assaults on their nest. Otherwise, they are relatively benign.
It also says that Eastern Yellowjackets are generally welcomed by gardeners for their consumption of vegetable-chomping insects.
I slowly come to peace, accepting the hours-long discomfort that my obtuseness has brought on.