The Omen of the Wasps’ Nest

As she prepares to leave the home she shared with her ex, Marlene Adelstein finds herself fixated on the husk of a nest hanging in the yard.

One pleasant October evening I was walking in my backyard with, Honey, my chocolate lab, for her after-dinner constitutional when I glanced up and noticed the biggest wasp nest I’d ever seen. This huge thing was suspended from a very high tree branch, way up in the sky. I stood under it, staring up for what felt like a full minute. “Jesus, Honey,” I said to my dog, “do you see that?” But she was too busy eating dirt to notice. The nest had a black circle that was clearly the opening but I didn’t see any wasps entering or exiting. It must have been abandoned before the winter, and was just a matter of time until a good gust would bring it down. I felt excitement rising as I thought: what a fabulous addition for my collection.

I collected birds’ and wasps’ nests and was quite good at finding them. I always retrieved the delicate things carefully, and displayed them all around my house. A robin’s nest was nestled in a ceramic bowl on my coffee table; a wasps’ nest made of layers of thin paper-like material, rested in a crystal water goblet. Many more were scattered about, tucked here and there, some viewable, others stored in drawers and cupboards.

Why this obsession? Perhaps, it was because I, too, am a nest builder. I create warm homes filled with mementoes of my life. To me, the nests I found were works of art worth preserving, each unique and beautiful.

The Omen of the Wasps Nest - The Omen of the Wasps’ Nest

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