LATE SUMMER: THE BRAMBLES AND THE GOLD

Golden Rod flaming

Golden Rod flaming

The morning is overcast, with occasional bright bursts of sunlight. Up in the bee garden, late summer is making herself known on the tips of shriveling leaves, cracking flower stalks, and drooping sunflower heads laden with blackening seeds.

A few bright spots remain to sing of summer’s bounty and memories of lush abundance on the hillside of MillHaven. The goldenrod on her tall spikes lights up the yard like golden torches. The little blue and pink stars of borage still call to the bees. Deep purple asters are just beginning to pop like firecrackers… Continue reading

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ON BLOSSOM O’POSSUM, AND EXISTENTIAL DREAD

DSCN1433

Blossom sleeps in my slipper.

Last evening I sat nestled in the grass in the peach hues of the late-summer gloaming. Clippers in hand, I sat sifting dried stalks of phacelia through my fingers, breaking their seed heads into a paper bag. Across the yard in the still of twilight, the swift whose noisy nestlings sing in our chimney was busy diving headfirst to her babies carrying the last bugs of the day. Bella and Lucy, our Muscovies, wandered the bee yard on their short, thick legs like a pair of floating barges moving along green rivers of grass… Continue reading

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CALLING ALL KINDRED SPIRITS!

Singing the ancient song...

Singing the ancient song…

The morning of the “original” 9/11, I was scurrying about fixing a snack platter and drinks for the beginning of our very first Kindred Spirit Retreat in Jackson, Wyoming. At the time, I was a woman without a phone or a TV, so imagine my shock when the first out-of-state retreat participants arrived with eyes the size of dinner plates asking me if I’d “heard.”

No, I hadn’t. I sagged down into a plastic chair, my feet literally knocked out from under me in stunned disbelief. Continue reading

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My Sun Hive Adventure

Weaving in Beauty

Weaving in Beauty

Michael Joshin Thiele spoke as he always does—softly and deliberately: “How was this for you?” he asked in the most lilting German accent you will ever hear.

We circled around him, about fourteen of us hailing from different states and even different countries to attend the first-ever west-coast Sun Hive making class. In front of each one of us was one-half of a Sun Hive we had made to house bees. By magic, it seemed, we clumsy and mostly untrained weavers had managed to make one of the two rye-straw baskets that comprise a Sun Hive. When placed top to top, the hive forms a lovely egg shape.

I had constructed a top basket. It took me all day and some of the next. Sitting in front of me was the handsome young man who was gifting me his bottom basket. Only seven of the fourteen of us—me included—would be taking a completed hive home. I promised him I would be sending photos and “love letters” from the bees who will be calling this Sun Hive theirs. Continue reading

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BEE-SOTTED SPRING

Waking up from a long sleep.

Waking up from a long sleep.

My back lawn is very sad. Most of its lovely green face is beneath mud now, and in other places the grass is drowned beneath rain puddles. This has been a very wet season, a record-rain season I’m told. Carter dropped sheets of old plywood across the yard so we could walk without having our shoes sucked off by the mud. Of course, the ducks are elated. Do you have any idea how many worms surface and float in weather like this? Well, Lucy and Bella do… Continue reading

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WHAT IF?

Sophia last autumn.

Sophia last autumn.

Last fall, I did an unconventional thing—which is in itself nothing surprising—and brought a beehive inside. Sophia Hive was very small, and I believed I had nothing to lose bringing her in and placing her in a lovely, large acrylic fish tank outfitted with ventilation holes plus a plastic bee-highway leading to the great outdoors beyond my bedroom window. Continue reading

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WHO DO YOU TRUST?

Sophia inside

Sophia inside

A few weeks back, I woke up in the dark, happy and grateful that I’ve managed to carve out two-plus hours of quiet self-time before the day lights up in earnest. I sat with my morning coffee, watching the first gloaming of the morning, realizing that as circumstance would have it, I had no agenda for the day… Continue reading

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SMALL THINGS, GREAT LOVE

Bee whirly gig from hubby Carter!

Bee whirly gig from hubby Carter!

This is the time of year I always start worrying about the animals. It’s utterly foolish, I know, but when the cold winds start to overtake the land, I start wishing that the deer could have carport shelters from the ice rains. That the squirrels will have a warm nest. That the birds’ feet won’t freeze on ice-shrouded branches, nor the bees die of hunger.

The creatures have been getting along without me for some years now—millions, actually—but my heart frets for them come winter. And so in winter especially, I give gifts for the creatures in my city yard. Birds here have so much forage in the warm months they rarely bother with my feeders, but come winter, they all return: the pine siskins, juncos, towhees, and wrens, along with the ever-present chickadees and nuthatches… Continue reading

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DO THIS ONE THING

Festooning. Cool word, yes?

Festooning. Cool word, yes?

These cold mornings, I make it a habit to walk up to my bee yard no matter what the weather and take a peek into the plexiglass viewing windows on each one of my hives. My hives are kept under a shed-type cover and this every-morning hive check is a precious new ritual here at MillHaven. I call it “bee TV,” and it is always educational. Sometimes it is downright flabbergasting, what you can see through that window. Yesterday, I watched a very disoriented yellow jacket being chased up and down the hive walls by some very determined guards. They did not waver in their task. They ran the butt off that poor wasp, until they finally ran her out the door. I imagined them yelling, “And good riddance!” as the flustered invader flew off… Continue reading

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ROOTS

Beach at Christmas. Happy Carter!

Beach at Christmas. Happy Carter!

I come from a family of wanderers. As a first-generation American, all the stories of my family were stories from different lands and different cultures. All of my aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins came here in ships and then spread out to populate the east and west coasts.

I don’t know how this wanderer energy expressed itself inside of each of them, but for me, it is a restlessness—an anxiety—that percolates up from my very bone marrow. For many years, I did not recognize it for what it was. I thought that circumstance just happened to necessitate my need to move to a new place every two-to-four years throughout my adult life… Continue reading

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