Bill is an Avid Gardener; so when we moved from a postage-sized San Francisco yard to 2.5 acres in the country, he was in seventh heaven.

I was busy meeting new neighbors and having them over to tea – and it took several tries before The Peanut Gallery absorbed that, aside from me, NOBODY ELSE was likely interested in his garden ‘finds’.

My first clue that our country property held extraordinary gems buried beneath its placid-appearing soil was when Bill interrupted my first tea with a grand announcement.

My table was laid out impeccably and conversation between two local neighbor ladies and I was going quite well when in from The Back 40 stomped Gardener Bill.

“Look what I found!” he admonished proudly, bringing the fashion talk to a screeching halt. “I turned up a shovelful of earth and … well, I’m submitting this gem to the GUINNESS BOOK!”

And he laid upon my impeccable table the (admittedly) biggest potato bug I had ever seen in my life – nearly hand-sized (well, my hand anyway).              

 Now, my country ladies were certainly used to digging, dirt, muck, bugs and garden denizens. But it’s quite another thing to have a live specimen thumped unexpectedly next to one’s croissant.

Screams, tipped chairs, and horror erupted to turn my Martha Stewart moment into something from Night of the Living Dead as Mr. Potato Bug, equally horrified at crashing the tea party, struggled to escape. (And I can testify that those suckers can SCOOT, given a vinyl tablecloth and screaming hungry giants. I’m sure it didn’t help his psyche, either, to realize he’d been plopped down beside a plate of croissants and cups of steaming tea. Likely he thought he was the main course!)

The ladies rather quickly gave their regards and left even though Bill, chastised, removed the perp back into its native garden and everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief.

A lecture was submitted to The Peanut Gallery, to the effect that even though I ordinarily appreciated seeing his ‘finds’ live, it was fairly inappropriate to present them to a group of new neighbors (I am sure my entertainment reputation spread around town like wildfire the next day: after all, how many women experience high drama at teatime?)

That was the first display. A few more followed – often proudly presented during the presence of guests – before The Peanut Gallery ‘got’ that show ‘n tell SHOULD have concluded at kindergarten and was no longer an appropriate teatime discussion, either.

Neither the ‘biggest garter snake in the world’ nor the much-coveted (by fishermen neighbors who suddenly appeared to make inquiries the day after) night crawler were thoroughly appreciated by the Ladies of Bloomfield, and – third time’s the charm – Bill eventually scaled back on his dramatic, garden-laden entries during my teas.

I cringed to think of my reputation around town (likely ‘crazy San Franciscan who offers LIVE ENTERTAINMENT during teatime’) until I passed by a house with an open window where the ladies were enjoying tea elsewhere, and unabashedly eavesdropped when I heard my name possibly being taken in vain.

Miss M: Oh yes, and you’d never GUESS what happened at Diane’s tea, THEN!

Miss Q: I heard it was the biggest potato bug ever discovered!

Miss Y: It’s going to be in the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS! THAT will put our little town on the map!

Hostess Miss H (sniffing): …trust a CITY GIRL to turn Tea Time into a Hollywood production!

By the comments that ensued I could discern that (a) Miss H was miffed SHE hadn’t been present and (b) my reputation around town as throwing (and I quote) “the BEST Teas” had been cemented by the entertainment portion of the afternoons.

Poor Bill.  When I returned home I revised my instructions regarding Bringing Garden Finds Indoors at Tea Time.

And told him if he ever uncovered any discarded Bling in the compost heap (or possibly a Prada bag out in the Back 40) my entire party would willingly adjourn the table to go out and bid for the spoils.

The Peanut Gallery, having been sternly trained for months to NOT announce his discoveries, just shook his head.

“Wimmen!” he could be heard to mutter as he stomped back into his garden.

And, a minute later, came the call:

“Oh, look! The BIGGEST BUMBLE BEE in botanical history! I’m calling GUINNESS – can you bring out a honey jar, dear?”

It was a carpenter bee.

                              Diane’s Scientific Addendum:

                 The hand-sized, does-not-make-honey bee.

                           BIG bumble on somebody’s part…

                               albeit not the right kind…

 City boys and their toys….

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