Wasps and A Garden Project

The soil near our front door is somewhat sandy and grass struggles to grow there. This environment evidently is perfect for the Indiana cicada-killing wasps. They visit us every year, buzzing near the front door and across the walkway and down the side of the driveway as they dig holes in the sandy dirt. Their goal is to grab cicadas and drag them down into the hole for use as a nest for the wasps’ offspring. The wasps return every year to their nesting grounds in mid-July and go into cicada-murder mode until about mid to late August.

Since they are non-aggressive, we mostly leave them be. They are simply another part of life’s cycle even though walking through their frantic flights to get to our cars isn’t for the faint-hearted. If the population grows large enough to be a nuisance, I start running water to fill in the holes. The wasps get irritated and redig their homes. However, the destruction happens often enough, the cicada-killing wasps will go away and find some other place to weave their villainous mayhem.

This year was different.

This last year, our well, which is located in this sandy patch between the front walkway and the garage wall, needed repair during the early winter. The well repairmen dug up most of the sandy area. Afterwards, the ground was left heaped up and uneven as well as free of weeds and grass. Perfect time to turn it into the fairy garden spot that I always wanted.

Spring came and I smoothed out the lumps and added garden edging, an array of flowering plants, and black mulch. In addition, I also fenced it off so the dogs would stay out. For some bizarre reason, my golden retriever loves peeing on flowers. On top of that, I placed my collection of ceramic fairy houses, flowers, windmills, and fairies on top of mid-sized flat stones. The plants grew and now the area is quite lovely.

A fairy garden with a pot sculpture of a lighthouse
My fairy garden with anti-dog fencing

The cicada-killing wasps have returned. They are quite angry. When I walk out, they buzz from flower to flower and across the fairy houses. I picture them with little furious faces, trash talking.

“What the hell? Where is my nesting ground?”

“What’s with these stupid houses? A cicada won’t fit in there!”

“Flowers! I liked the bits of clover. Who redecorated?”

They shake multiple fists at me and grumble when I walk by.

In short, I accidently gentrified their neighborhood. And with any gentrification, I ousted the old residents in favor of the newer ones. Oops! In truth, I forgot about them and their villainous burrows. The wasps have gone on strike.

I go outside now and occasionally find a fairy laying on its side. I picture the wasps duking it out with them during the night, punching the little fairy figurines and then drawing back bruised knuckles. Or even gangs of wasps trying to push the houses over in protest. I’ll be impressed if I find the cottages knocked over.

While the wasps still fly circles over the walkway and fairy garden like little protesters carrying signs of “fairies gotta go!”, no holes have appeared under the black mulch.  I’m not worried about them though. The wasps still have plenty of sandy spots along the driveway, which are closer to the cicada-filled trees anyway. Nature will rebalance and we will find a way to live peacefully together again.

Trailer Park Fae Brings Disease into Fairydom

Although Lilith Saintcrow is a leader in the urban fantasy genre, writing under several names, Trailer Park Fae was my first experience with her work. I enjoyed reading this book, which is unusual because I’m not partial to fairy stories. I was entranced immediately by the quality of the writing. It engulfed me with sensory details, making it easy for me to lose myself in our world and the different fairy kingdoms. The prose flows beautifully and I felt immediately engaged with the complex characters.

Trailer FaeSaintcrow’s fantasy realm overlays and connects easily with the humans’ grittier reality. However, the people are oblivious to the sidhe in their ranks. The fae use them as tools or victims always to the detriment or death of the humans. This makes the fae mostly horrible, an idea that might not be popular with some readers. Whether the monster is a space alien, demon spawn, or Summer Queen, we like to think that humanity could defeat or at least break even at some point. This novel does not harbor those illusions. The two protagonists are half human at least, which is the only reason why they survive their interactions with the other worlders.

The story dives into three plots interweaving three different characters. First, Jeremiah Gallow, half-fae and ex-guard of the Summer Palace, is fighting off suicidal depression after the death of his human wife. He has turned his back on the sidhe, wanting only to be left alone. Unfortunately, he drops into the middle of a complex conspiracy dealing with a plague on the sidhe and the fight between the kingdoms to control the cure.

Next enters Robin Ragged, an unwilling messenger of the Summer Queen. Robin becomes the key to controlling the plague that is decimating Unwinter’s realm. Gallow meets her by accident when she tries to outrun the King’s henchmen. She resembles Gallow’s wife, which sets off a protectiveness and curiosity in him. This sets up emotional tension between the two characters and provides the impetus for both to work together.

The third character is Puck Goodfellow, a free fae unattached to any court and seeking to make trouble in both. He stands outside most of the action, serving as the role of conductor to orchestrating the chaos. His hidden agenda and desires are not revealed until toward the end of the novel.

Although I enjoyed the lovely narrative, the descriptions sometimes ran on too long, obscuring meaning rather than clarifying a vision. Some of the phrasing and words were unfamiliar to me as well, which I put down to the fact that I don’t know the genre. Usually the meaning of certain unusual words can be picked up through the text, but that was not the case here. A glossary would have helped.

The ending, although surprising, still felt incomplete. The story of Goodfellow resolves but the others are left open for the obvious sequel. I’m a fan of series but feel that each book should stand alone. More resolution for the primary characters would have been nice.

In conclusion, if you like evil fairy-oriented urban fantasy, you’ll enjoy this book. However, readers new to the genre might get a little lost with this novel being their first choice.