Looseleaf laureate: Badminton-bee game not all that fun

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By Terri Likens, Editor

It’s spring, and the buzz around my neighborhood right now involves carpenter bees and what to do about them.

For years, I’d adopted a live-and-let-live attitude, leaving the bee battling to my fierce red heeler, Merlin. In his younger days, he used to put on quite the air show, leaping, twisting, snapping and snarling at the bees, who you could almost hear snicker as they gyrated in the air just out of reach.

In recent years, I’ve noticed the carpenter bee holes in the framework of my big shed beginning to expand.

I fear much more of this could lead to, ahem, structural integrity failure as my late civil engineer father used to say.

In more plain speak, I fear the whole thing might cave in.

So now I’ve taken up arms against the carpenter bees myself.

I’m following the lead of Steve Scarborough, a Roane County resident who takes great pride in using a badminton racquet to smack these destructive  bees into the next county.

That’s not all that hard for Steve, seeing how his property straddles the county lines of Roane, Rhea and Cumberland.

But carpenter bee-batting seemed environmentally friendly and kind of fun.

So, at my request, my boyfriend Derek picked up a couple of racquets at a local thrift shop.

This week, after hearing an aging Merlin barking incessantly at the little buzzers, I picked up my secondhand-store weapon of choice and headed outside.

As a former tennis player who held the No. 1 spot on my high school team, I figured I’d be a natural at this.

The bees  were naturals, too.

They dodged my forehand, my sizzling backhand and even my once-deadly overhead smash.

I could swear I heard that snickering again, but it might have been from the neighbors secretly watching from a window.

When I did connect with a bee, I’m not sure I did much damage.

Most of them simply skid to a halt in mid-air, then came right back at me, ready to go on a war path of their own.

Day 1  of bee-batting may have been a draw, at best. There may not be a Day 2.

On a side note, thanks to Lucy Gray, who called to check on me after my column failed to appear for a few weeks straight.

All is well. A number of other issues got in the way, but I’m back at the keyboard and writing again.