Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let it bee....

If you have never stuck your nose completely into a cherry blossom, a blossom that burst open only a few hours ago, you cannot know the intensity of joy possible by bees, by us.

We cannot know what bees know, but we close our minds, our universe, when we presume mechanistic explanations for all animals not human. If I had to choose between words and the inexplicable joy felt when I buried my face in a fresh patch of cherry blossoms, well, I'm throwing away my keyboard and running away with the bees.

After giving myself to the first tree, I imagined blending honey and cherries and yeast to make this year's melomel. I saw a young child, no more than 8, pick up her even younger sister, about 2--she was carrying her to the cherry tree, to sniff the flowers. I suspect she saw me doing the same a moment earlier.

The father, smoking a cigarette, barked at her: "There may be bees in those flowers--get away!"

She slinked away, now fearful of bees, and cherry blossoms. Just as well, I suppose--a child in love with flowers and bugs does not work well in cubicles.

Not all things are possible, but these things are:

You can eat bread, real bread, made from flour you ground with your own hands.
You can drink honey wine, made by the yeast you put in a carboy mixed with fruit and honey.
You can watch the tide fall, then rise again.
You can see Orion tonight if the sky is clear.
You can eat pesto made from basil grown in a classroom, fed by light from the sun and the breath of you and your students.
You can bury your face in early April cherry blossoms.
You can rake clams, take their lives, and eat them, no matter what sins you have committed.

What do you tell an 8 year old child holding her very young sister whose just been told by her father that bees are to be feared?

Do you tell her of the honey bee waggle dance? That bees will find her tree, and tell other bees, and that they will all be so intoxicated with the smell of the cherry blossom that she will not be noticed?

Or do you let her Dad stand silently against the tree, puffing on his cigarette, tend to his own children, his own myths, his own ignorance?


My Dad is dead. He loved bees.
My Mom is dead. She loved bees.
My sister is dead. She loved bees.
I will someday be dead. I love bees.

Maybe it's the bees that are killing us. Maybe it's not. But if it is, I'd still love the bees.

Occasionally I will stumble upon an exhausted bee, dying on a flower. Too tired to move, but still alive enough to thrust her tongue into the nectar. I leave those bees well enough alone. Should I be gasping my last breaths with my nose buried in a blossom, I trust the bees will return the favor.

The last sound I heard my mother make was laughter--she died two days later, while I held her hand.
The last few hours of my Dad's life, he laughed. I heard it, and I held his hand as he died.
I did not hold my sister's hand--she was killed by an errant missionary--but I bet she laughed a few minutes before she died. I know she sang. She always sang. Always. Like a bee humming she sang, sang, sang.

It's spring.

The flowers are back. The bees are back. The mystery, too, is back.

We can spend our Januaries pondering the mystery of life, the misery of death, while our brethren sleep through the dark days.

But now it's spring--humans with their electric lights and propane heaters no longer dictate the terms.

Get outside. Breathe. Live.


Betty said...

I also love bees and laughing. Loved your post. I hear the birds chirping every morning. They always sound happy and upbeat.

John Spencer said...

Micah tried counting the number of bees in our backyard yesterday and lost track. It didn't stop him from trying to count again and again and again.

Little kids waiver between completely OCD and completely ADHD by the minute.

If you stand by the orange trees, you'll hear the buzz and it sounds nothing like what one would assume.

A few neighbors think we are crazy for letting the boys in the yard during the "bee season." Joel hasn't been stung, but Micah was stung once last year. He admitted that it was because he was trying to catch it (he doesn't try that anymore)

Kate said...

Forsythia is blooming.
Crocus and snow drops, too.
I slept with the windows open last night.
My daughters return today from their week win FLA with my sister.
It's eggs and candy.
And COMPOST and I am sure the peas are up. Second planting today.
Spinach and arugula and mixed greens go in today.
I am on break for a week.
All things seem possible.
Including bees.

Carla said...

Great timing but of course it is, it is Spring!

I'm in NC visiting family. I had a blast today with my little 19 month nephew and an obliging carpenter bee..."what does the bee say Conor?"

Wayne Stratz said...

sad story about the dad stopping joy from happening. put fresh herbs from my garden into my dinner tonight... that ranks up there with smelling blossoms.

doyle said...

Dear Betty,

Bees and laughing always a good combination. I welcome my carpenter bees, too--they just came out. After the first few days of bumping, they accept I'm not going anywhere. (The bumping males generally don;t sting, but don't annoy the females in the hole--they can be cranky!)

Dear John,

OCD and ADHD makes sense outside--there's so much to see, and obsessive attention is well rewarded. The classrooms are an entirely different beast, not nearly as healthy as your orange trees.

Dear Kate,

During winter, I forget that all things are possible; in spring, it seems so obvious.

Bees are impossibly possible, and as good evidence as any that we're here to be here, and that's enough.

Dear Carla,

It is, indeed, spring! Bzzzz...bzzz...bzzzz....!

Dear Wayne,

I am amazed at how good fresh herbs are, and at how quickly they lose their magic once picked.