If something doesn’t feel right, most likely it isn’t — that is, if your intuitive “spidey sense” is healthy. Such was my feeling when we headed out for our penultimate horse ride of the season last week. Familiar Jack’s Trail seemed like a good pick to meet a horse friend we had not seen since last year.
The first red flag of the day was the warning sign on Highway 20 — “Prescribed Burn Ahead — Do Not Report.” As our horse trailers rounded the bend towards Early Winters, it appeared the burn was happening above Jack’s Trail. Maybe the smoke would head down valley, and we’d be in the clear upwind from the burn, I thought.
When another sign of the same ilk appeared directly on the trail, my spidey sense activated. Maybe we should turn around and take the trail the other way towards the Freestone Loop, I said — albeit too quietly. No one listened. Chain saws sawing to left, firetruck parked to the right, pump noise ahead. The fire crew stepped out of the truck but did not discourage our continuing up the trail.
A short distance ahead another Department of Natural Resources truck was coming down the trail towards us. We frequently meet walkers, runners, bicyclists, and other horse riders, but a motorized vehicle on the trail is quite unusual. Getting our horses off to the side so the truck could pass was challenging, but doable — until …
The bombproof horse (there really is no such thing) began jumping around, shaking his head, followed by full-on bucking. My horse began dancing and tossing her head, and soon we all realized what was going on.
Yellowjackets get very angry when something disturbs their ground nest and even more so when they come out into smoke. With bees swarming under the horses’ bellies, we riders needed to disembark quickly before the horses took care of that for us. We did not escape the stinging, however. Fortunately, the fire crew had a first aid kit to pull out stingers and sooth the stings with first aid cream.
At that point the ride was terminated, and I said to myself, “Lesson learned. Listen to your gut feelings and speak up!”
I was reminded of the time in my 20s when my sister and I came up with a bad idea, facilitated by our husbands. We learned of a beehive in an old shed that had beautiful, sweet honeycomb in it. The farmer said we could smoke the bees out and retrieve the honey. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
We did chase the honeybees out and grabbed the honeycomb, but at the same time, we started the shed on fire. Soon, fire trucks were wailing down the road, screeching to the blaze, and whipping out their big hoses to put out the fire.
It appears that my spidey sense was quite underdeveloped at that age and with much chagrin we ate the honey that we stole from the now homeless honeybees.