A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 56

Maybe we’ve had about enough of West Coast weirdness.

Sunday, May 3

As if there weren’t enough going on, now we have to worry about the murder hornets.

Just like COVID-19, they are another invader from the Far East. (In Japan, some people call them “yak killer hornets,” says Wikipedia.) And also like the pandemic, one of the murder hornets’ first points of attack in the U.S. was in the far Northwest. A New York Times story focuses on hornet incidents in Washington State, where one man’s beehive was decimated, possibly by the invading Asian insects, and where another man found one of the frightening two-inch long beasts on his front porch.

They ain’t pretty: “the hornet has a distinctive look, with a cartoonishly fierce face featuring teardrop eyes like Spider-Man, orange and black stripes that extend down its body like a tiger, and broad, wispy wings like a small dragonfly,” says the newspaper of record.

Hey, didn’t the Northwest used to be an alluring place offering beauty and tranquility if just the slightest bit of eccentricity? “Keep Portland Weird,” t-shirts and bumper stickers in that town urged. It has only been a few years since the television show Portlandia showed up, satirizing that city’s unique blend of sexual politics, dietary correctness, bicycle culture, and not-for-everyone rock bands. And Seattle—what other city has a space needle or a park dedicated to Pac Man? A chewing gum wall?

Then Seattle became an intense COVID-19 hotspot, and now we have these Hellspawn hornets.

Maybe it’s just as well that nobody is traveling anywhere for the foreseeable future.

Just now, while I was puttering around in the yard, our new next-door neighbors pulled in to their driveway. I finally got to say hello to them, albeit from a proper 25 feet of social distance. Someday I’ll get to ask why they leave so many lights on late at night. Perhaps they too are city people who find the darkness and quiet out here a bit unnerving.

Tonight’s dinner: Chicken breasts with mushrooms and garlic balsamic vinegar, couscous, and a green salad.

Entertainment: the final episode of Collateral and one episode from the second season of Occupied.