So…I’m thinking that my gardening endeavors are in need of divine intervention—for the fungus or whatever it is that’s devastating the hollyhocks and the tomatoes, the slugs and/or whatever is feasting on the berry bushes, the infant poison ivy that seems to be popping up all over the place, the ”sweet violets”, AKA Chameleon plants that are sending out their smelly but vigorous roots everywhere but in the “dead zone” where I’d like them to move in—and I was reading a murder mystery involving a public garden with a statue of a holy fellow called St. Fiacre(Irish–Fiachra, Latin—Fiachrius) patron saint of gardeners (…and maybe cab drivers…who knew?). Why not give him a shot?
Well, maybe not. There’s more to the guy than one might think. He’s not just a second-string St. Francis. Mercy, no.
So, the saints tend to have specialties. If you want to sell your home and the bids aren’t coming, you can appeal to St. Joseph; bury a statue of him in the back yard—upsidedown– and first thing you know you’re calling the movers. ‘S’truth. St. Jude specializes in lost causes, just ask Danny Thomas, that’s why he named that hospital after him. St. Genevieve is the patron saint of cats because she was originally invoked to protect grain stores against rats and mice( I need to speak to her). St. Patrick watches out for snakes, engineers and Ireland. St. Wenceslaus looks out for brewers. St. Isidore of Seville has even been called upon to take an interest in computers and the internet; the list goes on.
So St. Fiacre (That’s St. Fiacre of Breuil, not the other two guys), whose feast day is approaching on August 30, has some , shall we say…interesting…areas of consideration.
St. Fiacre is, number one, the patron saint of gardeners, those who raise vegetables and/or medicinal plants. Statues of him often depict him with a staff , masses of blooms and a bunny. He was granted as much land as he could entrench in one day to build an oratory for the Blessed Virgin and a hospice for travelers. Instead of digging , as the grantor no doubt expected, he simply dragged his staff along the ground and the soil turned itself over—the ditch dug itself! Anyway, the good man dealt with all manner of travelers’ complaints and seemed to specialize in urology and proctology, particularly sufferers from venereal diseases (Probably why his name is seldom given to helpless children). Also, riding distances on a horse, mule or donkey , or camel, for that matter, was certainly no easier then than now, so the good man’s intercession was implored for those afflicted with hemorrhoids (known in medieval times as “St. Fiacre’s figs). Do we want this guy hanging around? Sounds like his expertise is not really focused on fungus and slugs.
And, besides that, I think that I might have a word with St. Ambrose; Saint Ambrose is the patron of beekeepers. Not sure whether he has any influence with the non-honeybee (genus : Apis) critters but I was sure in need of somebody who had some recently.
I had placed an out-of-service litter box on the back porch in hopes of encouraging a semi-feral momma-cat in the neighborhood to have her litter there where we could get a hand on them and socialize just a little. No such luck. So the box sat there, upside-down facing the wall, abandoned, for all intents and purposes.
Sunday I went out to clean up the porch for expected company—sweep, straighten up, that sort of thing—took a broom with me; good thing. When I bumped the box, what I had thought was just an idle bee or two buzzing around exploded into a swarm of really, REALLY angry critters that thought I was attacking their homeland and THEY were going to put a stop to it. Whooeee! Sure did! I beat a hasty retreat, swatting all the way, and got the heck out of there. From a somewhat safer spot I looked back to see what the situation was then fetched my broom to get the box, the rug and the bees off of the porch an out onto the lawn where they could be dealt with a little more safely. Not a one-shot deal! Took about three tries, slapping as we went, to get the box and rug out but some of the bees…yellow jackets, whatever they were…were sticking around, just hopping mad and itching for a fight, flying around their former location, stingers at the ready. Finally, what did the trick was the garden hose. I washed what was left of their real estate out of there and brought out the insect spray to convince them to look for new digs. Still took them about an hour to give up and move on. The remains of their apartment building are out on the lawn until I’m sure they’ve gone for good.
The adventure was not without injury. I got stung about four times but only one seems to be actually swelling up. The last time I remember and event like this, I was stacking hay on a wagon when the baler ran over a nest on the ground. Zoweee! Those bees were just as mad but I was a lot faster then. We—my sister and I—shot from of that wagon and took off for parts unknown, shedding our long-sleeved shirts as we went. Finally wound up in the creek, dropped trou’ and put mud on the stings where the bees had gone up our pants and shirts.
Who says that living in the country is boring?