Yellow jacket

When we put away the sailboat at the end of our stay on Drummond, we managed to set the trailer right down on a nest of yellow jackets in an old rotten log – or perhaps it was a nest up in a tree, we’re not quite sure. We didn’t notice it right away. But when I pulled out the trailer and stood it up horizontally to turn it around and over, a wasp dropped out of the air onto my eyelid and stung me. Suddenly we had the whole swarm all over us. I was wearing my thick wetsuit, so I was safe except for my face. But the men really had to leg it.

I’ve put Benadryl, an over-the-counter ointment for insect bites, on my lid, but that doesn’t reduce the swelling, it just relieves the itch. So all I can do is wait.

  • to leg it, to make a dash for it, to scoot, to take to your heels = to run away fast
  • over-the-counter drugs = pills and ointments (Salben) that you can buy without a prescription (nicht verschreibungspflichtige Medikamente)


Everything on Drummond is makeshift. Metal things rust and break, lines fray, material rots and decays, so you are forever fixing things with spare parts and tools that themselves are anything but new. There’s a hardware store on the island that sells pretty much anything you need, and over on the mainland there’s a huge Walmart with a Do It Yourself section where you can get a far wider variety of tools and parts at about half the price. But fixing things is a matter of being consistent and staying with the project until it’s done, and you never really know how long it will take, so you might find your repair job only half finished by the time you have to leave. So the next person to come here finds “projects” lying around. I’m used to it, after all, this is what we’ve been doing for years, but I’m not sure if Helmut is all that happy with it. We’ve had fun on Adam’s sailboat, but Helmut is rather sceptical of the material, and tends to err on the side of safety.

I hate it when things break, especially things that were bought to match other things, because it’s often so hard to find a similar replacement. This morning it was the sun umbrella, which must be 30 years old now. Mike repaired it last year, in fact it’s been repaired many times. Now Adam is fixing it and it looks like the old umbrella might have yet another lease on life. But even that life won’t last forever. It’s an eternal cycle of makeshift.

(I’d like to upload pictures, but the internet connection is too slow.)

Getting there

Getting to Drummond is a trip and a half. We fly into Sault Saint Marie Ontario and then need to be picked up by someone to make it to the island some 100 miles away. Somehow, there’s always something to report. This time it was crossing the border from Canada in that beat up old Toyota. Actually, it’s more than beat up, it was shot up by hunters who saw it standing outdoors in the dead of winter and decided to use it for target practice. They shot out all four tires, the back window and the tail lamps. My brothers replaced the windshield and the tires, but you can still see the bullet holes in the hood. Nothing that a little masking tape won’t fix. There are bullet holes in the seats, too.

At the border they’re always confused by why on earth an American would want to live over in Germany. “So, what do you do over there?” “Oh, you know, live.” But this time two border protection officers took one look at the car and decided to make the four of us get out, with much “sir”ing and “ma’am”ing, as in “I’m going to have to ask you all to go inside the building. You can take that bag, ma’am, but you’ll have to take out any mobile devices.” Right, officer. Afterwards, when the tension eased and Adam and Renate were making small talk with the officers, they told us they were actually looking for bloodstains.

Helmut’s ESTA authorization to travel under the Visa Waiver Program didn’t count. “Oh, that’s more an airport sort of thing.” They took inkless 10 fingerprints (fascinating) and a mug shot and Helmut had to write his name and birthdate and address by hand in four different places, maybe just to make sure he wasn’t lying about his identity, and we dropped our 6 dollars, I think it was, and then we were out of there. Home free. Almost. Because it was getting dark, but Adam didn’t want turn on the carlights quite yet to avoid the officers calling us back. After all,  one tail light is still not working.