Picture me, walking along the trail with a bounce in my step, a smile on my face. I’m wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses, my favorite t-shirt, carrying a small backpack with water, a first aid kit and extra layers from the chilly desert morning. The sun is warming the air; it’s probably around 9:00 am and I’ve been on the trail since about 6:30, just after sunrise. I’ve reached the final flat portion of the Lost Horse Mine Loop in Joshua Tree National Park and I’m getting hungry. My watch tells me I’m about a mile from the parking lot, but I’m reluctant to hurry.
I am enjoying my surroundings, especially the pleathora of plant life, insects and birds on this lovely Sunday morning. I stop to admire a bush filled with buzzing bees, polinating busily. I move on, scaring a rabbit, spying a hawk, bending over to watch a large black beetle. I am happily meandering along … when a bee starts buzzing in my ear. I rarely fear bees; they rarely seem to have a conflict with me. I shake my head.
She is still buzzing in my ear.
I walk a little faster, attempting to move away from her. She is still buzzing in my ear.
I move faster. I’m almost jogging at this point, shaking my head sporadically … and she’s still buzzing in my ear.
I eventually raise my hand to shoo her away, but she doesn’t shoo; instead, she latches onto my finger. I take my hand and begin waving it wildly in front of me, yet she persists, and finally sinks her stinger firmly into my ring finger I swing my arm wide, flinging her to the ground where she lands somewhere in a small pile of foliage.
I look at my finger. I look at the ground. I look back at my finger and quickly pull the stinger out. Before I realize exactly what I’m doing, I find myself leaning over the foliage, scanning the complicated pattern for the dying bee, who I can hear buzzing erratically and I yell at her, “Why? WHYYYYYYYYY? Why did you have to die!?!?!?”
In a moment of clarity, uprighting myself, I pause.
I turn around. I think, I am so glad no one was behind me to witness this.