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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sweet Contentment

Sometimes, as I'm cycling along, I'll see something and feel a pull, actually it's usually more than a pull, it's almost like an incessant, unfulfilled need, to record the something through the lens of my camera. Today, that something was a tree. Maybe this tree became my fixation because Angel Baby and I watched Guardians of the Galaxy last evening and I fell in love with Groot (the idea of a tree being, not the actor playing the tree being). Or maybe this particular tree spoke to me because it is so different than the other trees around it, and I tend to be drawn to that which is different. I was once asked, way back in high school, after moving to a new home and thus starting as a freshman at a new school, if I had been popular at my old school. I remember shrugging, saying I wasn't unpopular. The girl asking the question kind of cocked her head at me, giving me a bit of a quizzical look, then said, "I can see why you were popular. You're different." For whatever reason, that comment has stayed with me all these years, and I have come to understand I do search out and embrace the "different."

So I circled this tree, searching for angles, lighting, shadows, composition. I couldn't get enough of the wispy, somewhat swirly clouds in the background, thinking they were singing hallelujah just for this tree because they could see the gloriousness of it. I stood near the trunk, underneath the lowest branch, and admired the red leaves mingling with the still green leaves. When I lowered my camera, when I turned to face the trunk, I could feel the vibrations of life. And in those vibrations, I experienced a sweet contentment with where I was right at that moment. There was no other place I needed to be, no other place I wanted to be except right there, beside a beautiful work of nature.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nearly Fall

Fall announced its presence during the very early hours Thursday morning, seeming to me to be trying to overtake Summer. When I set off for my commute to work, the temp was a chilly 53 degrees, a bit of a change from the mid to high 70's and 90% humidity we've been having. I pulled out my light gloves to keep my mitts from getting chilled during the ride, but I didn't do anything for my ears, and by the time I reached work, my poor ears were aching. Summer is definitely limping towards the finish line this second week of September.

While I love summer and the energy that seems to explode with the sun and heat of June, July, and August, fall truly owns my heart. The cool mornings and evenings that call for pulling on a comfy sweatshirt, the crisp air that reaches out and tweaks my nose, the snuggling under the quilt because the windows are open at night, and the sitting around a pit fire with family and friends (and a good pale ale) rank right up there as a few of my favorites things in life. I like the slowing down, the energy of the summer months waning. I feel like just sitting quietly for extended periods of time is perfectly okay to do, so I indulge in doing just that.

One other thing that is now on my list of favorite things in life is the bees. After the class I attended last Sunday, learning how to prepare my colony for winter, I've spent some time examining my hive and taking a few steps to getting it ready for colder weather. The first thing I did was remove the super. There was no honey in it, so I decided to remove it and take the frames out so I could place a top feeder on the hive. Then I put the empty super box on the feeder. I pressed two sugar patties on the screens along with a jar of sugar syrup in the top feeder before replacing the top. When I returned to the hive late Tuesday afternoon and peeked inside, I found the patties almost completely consumed and all of the sugar water gone! I was a little surprised with how hungry the bees seem to be as I sat quietly nearby and watched them return to the hive the other evening, and so many came in with packed pollen sa
cs. Some had light yellow pollen. Some had a dark yellow pollen. I was told it won't hurt to feed them even if they are still bringing in pollen, so I'm going to continue giving them patties and syrup just to help out the cause.

I'm going to be honest--I'm afraid the bees might not make it through the winter. I tried to find the queen but didn't see her. Granted, I only pulled out a few frames from each box. While I've overcome a lot of the fear I've held about getting into the hive, pulling out frames, and generally just being amidst the bees, I still have some fear. At this point, the fear isn't so much for myself. It's for the bees, especially the queen. I'm afraid of accidentally killing her. I know I need to find her, so I'm going to give it a go again next weekend if the weather is good. I just keep thinking she has to be there. Otherwise, the colony would go elsewhere. The girls are working hard to bring in the pollen, so the fact they are working and building up stores makes me hopeful. Still, I'd like to actually see the queen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Smell of Possibility

About three weeks ago, I peeked into the hive to see if anything was happening in the super. I found some bees milling about, but the frames were empty. Being as it was heading towards mid August, I figured getting any honey for us to feast on this season just wasn't going to happen. I was happy to see the frames in the deep covered, with lots of bee activity. This gives me hope that the bees will be comfortable through the winter, but just to be sure, I signed up for another class, one that will go into how to help the bees make it through a tough winter. That class is this upcoming Sunday, and I'm getting excited about attending and learning more.

This evening, I went back to the hive to clean out the tall grass that has grown up around it. Though the grass is pretty and provides nice cover, it does block my viewing enjoyment. There's just something soothing about watching the bees work, and I couldn't watch from the back deck because of the grass. So I began pulling the grass out. Slowly. Carefully. Watching the bees ignore me. Then I got my first whiff. At first I thought it was the oregano plant that has been in that part of the garden for the last three or four years. It nestled against the rosemary bush that had grown tall and wide and filled the air with its wonderful piney scent until this year. Last winter was so cold and snowy for so long that the rosemary didn't have a chance. With great sadness, I had to pull it out, leaving the oregano plant by itself. But what I was smelling definitely wasn't oregano.

This smell was slightly sweet.

Slightly musky.

Slightly spicy.

Slightly . . . hmmmm, what exactly was that smell?

I couldn't put my finger on just one element of the scent that continued to tease me.

Then I lifted the lid off the hive. I had to know if any honey was in the works in the super. Once the outer cover was off, I pried the inner cover off and set it to the side. When I leaned over to look into the hive, a warmth wafted up from the depths, lifting the scent I had noticed earlier to greet me. I'd just gotten my first dose of the beehive smell. I wanted to stand there and simply inhale, and I did for a moment. I then checked the frames. No honey.

The beehive smell was enough. It, much like watching the bees come and go, offered something akin to reassurance. That even though a life, even if only a rosemary bush, might sadly come to an end, I still have vivid memories of its fullness and its mouth-watering scent that make me happy when I think about it. That even though summer is approaching its end, I still have pictures of the landscapes, the wildlife, and the flowers that brought me so much joy as I pedaled alone along country roads. That even though there's no honey in the super, the possibility . . . yeah, the possibility . . . of having a bounty next summer is great.