The people who owned the lot behind my childhood home kept bees. A row of white boxes were lined up just on the other side of our property line, and the bees, who don’t understand property lines, came over and pollinated our apple trees and garden, climbed all over the deadfalls in autumn, and generally thought they lived at our place. It seems like the neighbors should’ve given us some honey in exchange for our pollen, but I don’t remember any honey gifts. I used to watch as the old guy came out in his white space suit and with a smoker to get the honey. It looked like a good job to me, especially since the bees were doing all the hard work. Sometimes I think about keeping bees too.
There’s an ancient apple tree in our backyard. It doesn’t make very good apples, unless you’re a boy who likes to use apples as weapons. Our hard, knobbly, green apples made excellent bruising projectiles for unsuspecting little girls. The boys knocked birds out of the trees with apples too. Boys can be mean. They got even meaner when they realized that hitting hard apples with badminton racquets was the equivalent of a nuclear missile assault, and tennis racquets were even better. Maybe thinking about boys reminds me of why I like the bees, because the bees took their revenge on those barefoot boys.
I have a great deal of affection for the apple tree too, despite the misuse of its fruit. I climbed the tree with my sketchbook or a novel and whiled away my afternoons in a secluded bower of blossoms with buzzing bees for company. One of my brothers lives at the old homestead now, and thought he’d take the tree down since he didn’t like mowing over the mess of hard green apples. The tree took revenge too because someone had spiked it with metal. It wasn’t me, but I can only applaud the effort. I’m very glad Pete wasn’t hurt by the chainsaw, and I’m very glad that the tree is still there, still making inedible fruit, and still feeding the bees.
This is old art. It’s a 20” x 30” poster that was used for interpretive programs and for sale in the parks’ gift shops. It went over so well that I had it blown up and printed onto backlit Plexiglas for a honeybee display in the nature center. Bees could come in and out of the building through clear tubes, and the honeycombs were visible through clear windows. Now that I think about it, I didn’t get any of that honey either. I see a continuing flaw in my compatibility with beekeepers, but no problem at all with the bees. I was very happy to see a honeybee in my house this week. Well, not happy that it was in the house, just happy that the bees have returned. I gently caught the lost bee and asked it to get busy pollinating my fruit trees.
The crows are back in my yard too. I had singing crows last year, and I’m really hoping they come back this year. I wouldn’t have believed they were actually singing if I didn’t actually see them standing on either side of my road and watching their beaks moving. It wasn’t CAW, CAW, CAW, but rather a really beautiful, melodic duet between the two of them. Crows often come back to nest where they nested the year before, so I’m hopeful they’ll be back. I was really nice to their babies and reassuring to the parents, so I hope they know this is a good place to live. And since I’m talking about crows, I have an EVENT that happens every evening, shortly before twilight. Crows from everywhere come to my house to discuss their day before flying to their individual homes. We aren’t talking about 10 or 20 or even 100 crows. There are thousands of them, all talking at the same time. It’s impressive, and very noisy. I feel happy to be included.