Saturday, August 11, 2007
The Trip - Mom's Reunion
Tonight was my mom's high school reunion, and I was her date. There was one other daughter-date, so I wasn't alone.
I got all dressed up in my dancing dress and shoes, because the program said there'd be dancing, and I wanted to be ready. But nobody danced. Mostly they talked, and the organizers tried to get some fresh blood to organize the next one.
One couple, who lives in Baltimore, invited my mom and me to visit them when we're out that way. It should be late fall, as near as I can tell. The other daughter-date, who lives near her dad in Seattle, gave us tips on what to see in the Seattle and Vancouver (Canada) areas, information we're going to need pretty quickly.
We had a good time chatting with everyone. My mom recognized some of the people right away. Others had changed enough that she had to read their nametags to know who they were. That's to be expected, I suppose.
As we were leaving, we started talking to the caterer about bees (one of them kept trying to eat the candy corn that was part of the table's centerpiece). She said that every year she gets three beehive boxes to pollinate her cherry trees (the Flathead Valley is famous for its cherries). Several years ago, the bees just disappeared, and she had a poor crop of cherries.
But she said Montana's agricultural bee people figured out what was making them disappear (she didn't know what it was), and they made some changes, and now the bees are making a comeback. Last year's crop was good, because the bees stayed. But this year, the heat and high winds drove the bees away, so her cherries are lousy again.
As a caterer/restaurateur, however, her concern was less about the honeybees and more about the yellow jackets, who are the scourge of outdoor eating events, which is what my mom's reunion was. And indeed it was a yellow jacket going for the candy corn. But she has (through much trial and error) discovered a highly effective way of keeping the yellow jackets away from the party:
Before she unwraps the food, she takes a piece of meat and hangs it from a tree away from the party but close enough to attract the yellow jackets. When she sees that the pesky creatures have congregated on the meat, she knows they'll leave the party alone, and she unveils the food. One or two strays may hang out at the party, but the rest stay occupied for the night. She said the yellow jackets devour the piece of meat by the end of the evening (like flying piranahs), but by then, she's cleared all the dirty dishes and cups, so they won't attract the bugs back to the party.
It's a slick trick, and I offer it to you as a public service announcement. A bowl of apple juice will also attract them, where they'll drown (or at least not be able to get back out). And fishermen can toss a small fish--one not worth bothering to clean and eat--to the side to keep the yellow jackets away from the keepers.
So there you have it. Outdoor parties have just become bearable again.