A beach house evokes an idyllic setting where families relax and play under blue skies beside undulating seas for endless hours.
Our summer house at Fogland Beach offers this and more, but other times the place can be downright dangerous.
Last week we gathered at the summer place to celebrate my nephews’ birthdays.
After catching up, we prepared lunch. Firing up the grill, my brother barbecued sirloin tips, onions, peppers and zucchini, as well as stir-fried shrimp in a wok.
For the next hour, we sat at the round table and feasted on a meal that will never taste this good in winter. There is something about the salty air here that seasons the food to perfection.
We sang “Happy Birthday” and handed out the presents but decided to wait before having cake and ice cream.
That’s when my mother suggested we take care of an odd job that had been deferred for a long time. An old antenna still clung to the roof, secured by one rusty bolt from the siding.
My brother climbed a small ladder and tried to unscrew the bolt with a ratchet, but it would not budge. There was also a safety issue: A good yank might take out the antenna, as well as all of us.
Consequently, we borrowed our neighbor’s full-size ladder, and my brother leaned it against the house and climbed.
Scaling the roof, he held onto the antenna and tried to wrench it free from above, while my nephew mounted the other ladder and attempted to remove the bolt from below.
Suddenly a cloud of bees, disturbed by my brother’s trek across the roof, attacked him.
“Most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive,” wrote Sue Monk Kidd. “Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about.”
The woman knew what she was talking about.
There are 400 native bee species in New England, and they live close to us, in the ground and under rocks or in woody materials.
Apparently, these bees preferred a penthouse apartment.
The first impulse when bitten multiple times by angry bees is to back away. In this case, the move would have been tragic.
Instead, my brother became Spiderman. After being injected with bee (rather than spider) venom, he moved at superhero speed across the roof, as if held up by webbing, with the bees in hot pursuit. Then he flew down the shaky ladder.
In true Yankee form, the first words out of my brother’s mouth were an apology to my mother for failing to remove the antenna.
But she was already running in the house for first-aid supplies. There were red, puffy welts all over his legs, and his arms were scratched and bleeding.
Thank God, that was the extent of his injuries, which he shook off as nothing.
If there is a lesson to all this, it is to “bee” on guard when you’re roof climbing and that it is better to have your cake and eat it too.