Near dusk, near a path, near a brook, we stopped, I in disquiet and dismay for the suffering of someone I loved, the doe in her always incipient alarm.
All that moved was her pivoting ear the reddening sun was shining through transformed to a color I’d only seen in a photo of a new child in a womb.
Nothing else stirred, not a leaf, not the air, but she startled and bolted away from me into the crackling brush.
The part of my pain which sometimes releases me from it fled with her, the rest, in the rake of the late light, stayed. ~C. K. Williams “The Doe”
Oh little one
to have been born
in June over three decades ago
but lost too soon
gone as swiftly
as a doe disappearing in a thicket,
a memory that makes me question
if you were real,
but you were
and you are
I’ll know you when I see you.
A swarm of honey bees appeared, suddenly and without fanfare, on our old black walnut tree with the tree house. After dusk, a local bee keeper came to brush the majority of them into a cardboard box to take home to a new hive.
A bee swarm is an amazing single-minded organism of thousands of individuals intent on one purpose: survival of the queen to establish a new home for her safety and security, thus ensuring survival for all. I am grateful they stopped off here at this farm for a bit of a respite, and wish them well under the nurture of a gentle apiarist who, for forty years, has loved, respected and honored bees by working for their well-being.
The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams. ~Henry David Thoreau
One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees… ~Leo Tolstoy
A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly.
-An Old English Ditty
When the air is wine and the wind is free
and the morning sits on the lovely lea
and sunlight ripples on every tree
Then love-in-air is the thing for me
I’m a bee,
I’m a ravishing, rollicking, young queen bee,
I wish to state that I think it’s great,
Oh, it’s simply rare in the upper air,
It’s the place to pair
With a bee.
If any old farmer can keep and hive me,
Then any old drone may catch and wife me;
I’m sorry for creatures who cannot pair
On a gorgeous day in the upper air,
I’m sorry for cows that have to boast
Of affairs they’ve had by parcel post,
I’m sorry for a man with his plots and guile,
His test-tube manner, his test-tube smile;
I’ll multiply and I’ll increase
As I always have–by mere caprice;
For I am a queen and I am a bee,
I’m devil-may-care and I’m fancy free,
Love-in-air is the thing for me,
Oh, it’s simply rare
In the beautiful air,
And I wish to state
That I’ll always mate
With whatever drone I encounter,
All hail the queen!
~E.B. White from “Song of the Queen Bee” published in the New Yorker 1945
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
~William Butler Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree
Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers. ~Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
…The world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places.
Don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you.
Still, don’t be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants.
Don’t swat. Don’t even think about swatting.
If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee’s temper.
Act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved. ~Sue Monk Kidd from The Secret Life of Bees
Such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them. “If one were to sting me,” He thought “I should swell up as big as I am! ~J.R.R. Tolkien from The Hobbit
When the bee comes to your house, let her have beer; you may want to visit the bee’s house some day. -Congo Proverb
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, he has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why.
The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.
Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. ~C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain
It is easy for us to lose focus on the “why” of our existence:
so much of our time and energy spent seeking safety and security,
striving for a journey filled with happiness, joy and contentment,
as if that sole goal is our only ultimate destination and purpose.
This is not our home, we are mere wayfarers.
The nature of a fallen world leads us down roads
filled with potholes and flat tires and hurting people
scattered by the wayside, often alone, oppressed and suffering,ourselves sometimes among them.
Though we rejoice in the glimpses we have of joy broadcast like seed,
sprouting brief moments of happiness,
and the temporary comfort of contentment,
God calls us to know discomfort
so that we gratefully accept the gift of grace,
and understand what it means to give it to others:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.
My father swerves the team to miss the quail’s nest hidden in the furrow she rises up beating her wings her cries fill all the world of sky and cloud echoing her call…
and so he passes the caring farmer with his crooked furrow saluting life the warm round eggs hidden in the spring grass the quail rising and falling pulled by invisible heartstrings. ~Dorothy Hewitt “Quail’s Nest”
I remember my father driving a stake
where the killdeer nest held 6 speckled eggs,
and the mother would run off crying,
flapping and appearing wounded
to lure him away from her precious brood.
He would drive the plow around those nests,
marking their spot for the season,
respecting their presence,
preserving their future,
without anyone telling him
he should or he must
because his heart told him
it was the right thing to do.
thank you to Joel DeWaard for giving me permission to use his recent photos from the Lynden International Plowing Match that takes place just down the road apiece.