I’m 4,875 meters above England, moving at a ground speed of 463 km/h. To my left the sun is doing that peaches-on-a-bed-of-whipped-cream thing to the clouds. It’s obviously very beautiful. And I’m trying out this whole blogging thing because we can blog from the sky now. And also because of bees.
These tiny, humming, vibrating, stinging, pollinating creatures have whirled their way into my heart and left me looking at every garden, rooftop, field or urban balcony thinking, “You could totally put a hive there.” I used to do this with pianos. That sort of breath-catching elation you feel as a teen when the boy or girl you have a crush on walks by? I used to get that for grand pianos. I still kinda do. But now I have my own piano, and I’ve played grand pianos all over the world (yesterday in Oslo #parkertpiano), so now, the thing that gets me all giddy, soft and full of wonderment is the sight of a tiny insect.
Have you ever walked by a tree, or maybe a patch of lavender and been stopped short by the sound of the Hum? Try listening. Anywhere really. City or country. Just listen for the low buzz your heart would make if it had a sound and you’ll surely come across it. If you live near ivy this time of year, start there. It’s outrageously loud once you tune your ears to the buzzing of honey bees feasting. Or making love. I’m not sure which one to call it.
Right now I’m on my way to England to study with a shamanic school deeply entwined with her Ladyship the Honey Bee. This will be my fifth trip to England for the same purpose. The first time I was in one of these life-altering workshops a hive of honey bees moved into a hole in the exterior wall of my house behind my bed. I kid you not. I had never had a bee hive prior to this, and then suddenly, a feral colony was building honey comb through my dreams.
Bees are that way, I think. Rather mysterious and synchronistic in how they show up. Today for instance, I was happily putting the final touches on my blog site (no longer pulling out hairs and imagining myself smashing the site building program to bits), when I overheard an American man say, “It was so bad, we just had to say ‘$*#%-it!’, and eat dust-covered breakfast.”
I laughed out loud because I knew exactly what he was talking about. Only someone who’s been to Burning Man can appreciate the moment where you throw your hands in the air and just eat your dust-laden pancakes. Or worse yet, when you finish your stranger than strange cocktail (try warmish, stale tonic, watermelon juice and vodka *grimace*) to find a thin layer of dust sludge residing in the bottom of your plastic cup. Regardless of such dining horrors, there is a camaraderie and love in the week-long art festival/social experiment in the desert, that warms fellow participants immediately to one another, and I felt entirely at home laughing my way into a stranger’s conversation. Mind you, this is after meeting Israeli Burners on the train to Oakland and a Swedish Burner on the flight to Oslo.
Anthony @reinventthemeal, is a chef and a farm to table foodie from Los Angeles out to visit Norway and her finest foods. And, of course, because this is how the whole thing works, he’s also a beekeeper. When his grandfather died, his grandmother decided to clean out her late husband’s garage, whereupon she came across all of his old beekeeping equipment. She gifted the bee gear to Anthony, saying his grandfather wanted him to have it. Now every time he gets stung, he feel like it’s his grandfather. “And I say ‘Hey Grandad!”
I was struck in this small exchange, by how often I hear of a connection between beekeepers and those they’ve lost. Perhaps it’s the quiet of the apiary that allows us to quiet our inner landscape enough to feel those places where the veil between this life and the next is thin. Our time with bees allows us to be so focused, so present, so meditative. And if we’re not, they’re the first to remind us.
So now you know my point. Anything you love tends to follow you about. Pretty simple. It’s really no different with honey bees and I. Still, I like to think that there’s something a bit more synchronistic about the honey bee. Something ancient and old that call us to this vital, life-giving species and draws us down into her mysterious workings. It’s the tiny hum that keeps the world going round. The sound that weaves in and out of our daily lives reminding us of the sweetness and the sting; the hidden hive and the bright flower.