My youthful fear of outhouses culminated, not in the scary night woods at Bark Point, but one year later on the edge of the young apple orchard of Glasenerʻs Orchard, Herbster, Wisconsin. At age eight, I would remain at Grandma and Grandpaʻs orchard after my family returned to Iowa. I would become a strawberry picker.
On the last day of family vacation, we visited the orchard, ¼ mile up the road from Grandpaʻs farm. Rows of strawberries were planted amongst young apple saplings–an early return on investment during the five-seven years before apple trees produced a harvest.
In the strawberry patch, I was introduced to my first summer job. Predictably anxious but eager to learn, my excitement sped up my bowels. “Mommy, I need to go cooey.”
“Ric, see the outhouse over on the edge of the orchard. You can go in there.” With Momʻs direction, off I went.
Not so scary in the middle of a farm field during bright daylight, I opened the outhouse door, entered, secured the lock, pulled down my shorts and settled on the potty. Time to do my business…
…when suddenly I felt a sharp sting on the back of my neck. Then another. Now one on my arm, where I looked and spotted a giant yellow-black hornet.
Leaping to my feet, fumbling to open the door, I emerged screaming. Running lickety-split with my drawers halfway to my feet, my arms flailing to swipe away the enemy, I must have made a shocking but hilarious sight for the onlookers.
A colony of wasps had made Grandpaʻs outhouse their new home. And they weren’t inviting visitors.