TRR photos by Sandy Long

The remains of a football-shaped bald-faced hornet nest ended up in my driveway recently. Its former residents don’t overwinter here, so a new nest is constructed every spring. According to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, bald-faced hornets are not true hornets; they are yellow jackets. They help to reduce populations of unwanted insects and pollinate flowers when seeking nectar.

A world of wonders

The other day I came upon a wonderful thing in my driveway. It lay in a tousled clump and resembled a shaggy rag. Bending to retrieve it, I discovered a beautiful gift from the natural world—the slightly weathered remains of a bald-faced hornet nest that had broken free from a nearby tree.

As I studied the complexity of its creation and the fantastic threads of subtle colors composing it, I felt a sense of awe that such an amazing thing had been crafted by an insect and used as its shelter before coming to rest at my feet.

Walking in the forest a day later, my eyes were drawn to some shadowy areas in the snow cover. It looked as if someone had tossed pepper onto the snow. On closer inspection, the specs were popping about in a vigorous display of the characteristic that has earned them their name: springtails.

These tandem encounters reminded me again that the natural world is filled with such wonders, and experiencing them is a worthwhile way to spend some of the moments we’re given each day.

Consider the following words from Albert Einstein, who cautioned, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed;” or these from Rachel Carson, who observed, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”


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