I’m Not Afraid…But I Do Make Exceptions

by Curt Kovener 

Among the things that I really like to avoid are heights, biting & stinging insects, and painting. And all of those came together for a perfect storm of sorts this past weekend.

The wilderness retreat was in need of some exterior maintenance that required painting. One of the things I least like to do. And you can’t paint the gables without ladders and walk board. Thus getting my feet more than 15 feet into the air and standing on either tiny rungs of a ladder or very narrow metal walk boards is the second thing that will get my heart beating faster.

At first I did not get much work done. It is difficult to clean then caulk one-handed while 15′ in the air and holding on to the roof to steady myself. Every step I took on the aluminum walk board caused creaking and groaning of metal, and as I wiped the siding to clean the movement was enhanced with a seemingly bouncing walk board.

The walk board seemed to be shaking and I realized it was by knees a quivering.

Then just as I was gaining some confidence that the walk surface was not going to collapse I began to receive periodic visits by horseflies and a particularly inquisitive baldface hornet. And there was the trifecta of terror for me.

My movements well above ground are slow and methodical at best and when the buzz of biting horsefly or stinging hornet are heard, I pause to determine just how close and how menacing their threat is. The black gum tree is shedding some leaves and when one brushes my neck like a horsefly it gets me twitchey…and the walkboard starts a shaking again.

I was even buzzed by a hummingbird who was intriqued by my red bandana headband. Then the aggravating gnats began buzzing about my ears. After tolerating them and swatting at them for a bit, a timeout was called and insect repellent applied.

Then I had to climb back up the ladder, gingerly make my way onto the walk board all the while reaching for the roof, gable or house to steady my self.

All the while this nervous aerial ballet was taking place, Charley the Lab was lazily laying on the ground being amused by the comedy in the air.

With knee shaking perseverance the elevated work was finally completed and I was able to get my feet back on terra firma where the painting went faster.

But by that time, Charley had become bored of my antics, and was sleeping away in the afternoon sun…until a horsefly landed on him.