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‘Bee’ careful in Tucson spring, a season that can sting

While we’re busy avoiding the rattlesnakes and javelina that blossom along with Tucson’s spring, we can easily forget one more potentially dangerous critter.

All hail the black and yellow bumblebee.

Many of us are reminded daily of how annoying bees can be – especially when we see the big, fat carpenter bee that somehow manages to stay bobbling through the air with the body the size of Asia. But many of us have also forgotten how painful sting can be.

The first and only time I was stung was as a toddler at a fateful family picnic in Dearborn, Mich. The incident forever prompted me to eat grilled food in the car. I have since learned not to swat, bat or otherwise make panicked flailing motions in a bee’s general direction. I’ve also learned not to wear vanilla-scented skin lotion while trekking through the forest after an equally ill-fated hike in upstate New York.

I thought I had insect habits mastered. But then a stealthy little devil bee caught me by surprise. As I stuck my hand in a bucket to scoop out dead leaves I felt a searing, sharp prick on my ring finger. I at first thought the prick was from a mesquite thorn or one of those burry goat heads, but as I pulled my hand from the bucket I saw the prick was attached to a writhing, dusty, deflated bee.

Did I mention the word prick?

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The glory of mud

Mud gets a bad rap. It’s dirty. It’s messy. And it’s historically been the reason behind many matted shag carpets or smeary footprints on white linoleum.

But there’s another side of mud, the marvelous and miraculous side, that cannot go unnoted.

Oregon marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Oregon marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

A bee sting made my finger swollen, stiff and itchy. It hit its intolerable peak while I was in Moon Smoke Shop and I began rubbing it like a mad woman.

I mentioned it to the guy behind the counter because I had this strange feeling that the guys at Moon Smoke Shop, specifically the one on the corner of Grant Road and Alvernon Way, would know what to do for a bee sting. They did.

“Pack it in mud,” the manager/owner said. He explained this folk remedy supposedly sucked the stinger out as the mud dried.

While it may seem somewhat stupid to pack germy, wet dirt around a swollen bee sting sore, which was now ripped open after I tried to gouge out the invisible stinger with tweezers, I gave it a whirl.

More marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
More marsh mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

The instant I packed the mud around the sore, the soothing began. The pulsing went down. It stopped itching. My finger felt like it was encased in a soft, cozy cocoon.

By the time the mud dried and flaked off, the swelling was gone and my finger could bend.

Mud not only sucks out bee stingers, but it is known to be equally effective for sucking other toxins from the body. Mud masks and mud wraps are in high demand, especially for the gads of tourists who flock to the ultra-healing black mud by the Dead Sea.

People are digging it (excuse the pun).

Even if you don’t care to heal yourself with mud, you can always wrestle in it, name your band Primus and write a song about it, or use it in the title of a poem:

Catapault/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Catapault/Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Soap Would be the Opposite of Mud
The Antonym Poem by Ryn Gargulinski

insects are
the opposite of frogs
(if we had to pick opposites)
cats would be the opposite
of dogs and fish would be
the opposite of birds and
hats would be the opposite
of shoes and the Charleston
would be
as opposed to
an epileptic seizure


Since arid Tucson is not usually known for its mud, I’ll share the recipe I used to make my own.
Mud recipe:
2 parts dirt
1 part water
Stir well with stick

Mud, o glorious, mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Mud, oh glorious mud/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Of course, mud still has its dangers. We already discussed the havoc it can wreck on shag rugs and white linoleum, but it can also pose a number of other hazards.
• Mudslides kill thousands when they slickly shimmy down a mountain and consume entire villages
• Mud can suffocate you if you fall face down in a gushy pool of it and try to inhale
• Heavy mud can suck off your shoes and render them useless
• Mud clumps, when thrown at anyone who scores on you as goalie in a soccer game, get you a red card (not that I’d know from experience).

Share your own mud recipe below!

How has mud enhanced or ruined your life?