Never liked raspberry jelly much. Never been stung by a bee before. Things like that can change so quickly, it’s almost as if someone had planned it this way. You know, so that things that never happen to us, and we never think will ever happen to us, just do. All of a sudden like. Without warning, they happen. And the sad thing is, it is usually our fault.
This was definitely my fault.
Well, it started out being Grandma’s fault. She has this thing about jamming. Always has. Whenever she makes jam, she makes way too much jam. She always says that she has learned from her mistake. Last year she swore she would never make more than three jars of grape jelly ever again. The year before that she swore that she would never make more than three jars of strawberry jam. The year before that, it was peach, and before that, blueberry, and, well, you get the picture.
She always managed to learn her lesson and at the same time repeat the same mistake. And this year, as you have probably already guessed, it was raspberry jam.
Now, when I say that she made too much jam, I don’t mean like, a couple jars too many. Because a couple jars can easily be shouldered off on unsuspecting passersbys or unappreciative distant relatives. No, by too much I mean way too much. I mean, like, mountains too much. No idea where she found all the berries, but, like every time she made jam, once she started making it--mashing it, sugaring it, boiling it, canning it--she just didn’t stop until the berries ran out. I suspect she jammed every raspberry picker and grower within a thousand miles plum out of berries.
Well, I had the misfortune to be in the vicinity when she finally ran out of berries and realized how tired she was. She also realized that, once again, she’d made too much jam. So she began to cry.
Now, if you’ve never seen my Grandma cry, you’ve never seen a real woman cry. Her little bony shoulders shake so pathetically, and the tears just well up like liquid jewels and flow out of her crinkly eyes till they sparkle all over with sadness. And when a real lady like my Grandma cries, you will do anything, and I do mean anything to see her happy again.
And so my thinking cap just hopped on my head and started making me come up with ideas, no matter how much I thought it might be a good idea to just give Grandma a hug and leave her be to get over it.
Well, my thinking cap convinced me to do nothing of the sort, and so I came up with what I thought to be an absolutely brilliant plan. I ought to have known better. Every brilliant plan I’ve ever had has turned out so far below brilliant that it might as well have been an absolutely horrifically awfully terrible plan. Well, we all repeat our mistakes sometimes.
“Grandma!” I said, in a tone that must have been cheerful enough to break glass, “why don’t you stop making jam and just make honey? You could keep a few bees and then collect their honey when it is ready and that way you can never have a bigger crop of well, honey, than the number of bees you have, and as long as you are a good beekeeper and don’t accidentally duplicate your bees, you’ll be all set.” I had to include that bit about duplication because with members of my family, you never knew what strange trouble they might get into.
It had worked. Grandma stopped crying, sat up, and actually smiled. “Honey,” she said, and for a moment I wasn’t sure if she was referring to me or the sweet stuff, “that’s a wonderful idea!” I still wasn't sure, but it didn’t matter. She was happy. “But where will I get bees?”
“I’ll find some for you!” I volunteered, and then at once I realized that this was a mistake, but it wasn’t like I could go back on my word, was it?
So that’s how I found myself heading out into the forest with a makeshift net over my head. (It was actually one of those plastic mesh bags that fruit come in, which I later discovered was very good at carrying fruit, but not at all good at keeping bees out.) But I didn’t know that at the time and was only feeling vaguely nervous about the whole excursion.
It took a lot longer to find the bees than I’d first anticipated. Actually, it took me two months.
I’m going to keep the story of me capturing the bees rather brief, because it’s a little bit embarrassing. Basically, I threw the black garbage bag I had brought over the nest of bees, got stung all over my body, and ran out of the forest, still clutching the bag as if my life depended on it. The one good thing in the whole situation was that the bees that I had caught in the bag were not able to get out.
When I arrived on Grandma’s back porch, she was horrified to see that I was covered in stings. But before she got me anything for the nasty stings, I insisted that she find me a twisty tie so I could trap the bees inside.
Once this was done, she brought me in and tried to tend the stings and fed me raspberry jam on toast. Nothing seemed to help the stings until I like, accidentally dropped the toast on my stomach. For some reason, the sweet jelly was soothing. So we spread it all over me and I laid there for a whole day and a whole night, just covered in jam.
Then, the day after that night, I was feeling a little better and I suddenly remembered the bees. I wondered if they’d survived all that time in the black plastic bag. So, when Grandma had gone out for a bit, I sneaked out the back porch and took the bag out into the field behind Grandma’s house. It didn’t move or hum when I carried it, so I figured they must all be dead. All that work and stings for nothing! But I figured I should like, check anyways.
So I cautiously un-twisted the twisty tie and opened it just a crack. And out flew two buzzing bees! Right for my face! I was so startled that I dropped the bag, which promptly got caught in a breeze and a whole bunch of bees came sprouting out of it. Thankfully, they were mostly all dead.
I think I pretty much passed out on my feet.
And so it came to be that they found me standing in the middle of a field covered in dead bees and raspberry jelly.