Monday, April 27, 2009

Raindrops Keep Falling....

Rain and more rain, last week, yesterday, tonight. Tornado sirens sounded over and over last evening, while I was at work--answering beyond the shadow of a doubt J's question of qhether he would be able to hear the sirens from the farm. (The siren tower is visible from the garden, barely showing above the trees.)

So one of tonight's adventures was going up on the roof to clean the gutters, so that hopefully rain will stop leaking into the entryroom ceiling and thence onto the floor. Maybe it's a carryover from sailing as a child--I love going up on the roof in the rain and wind; being out in the elements, up in the air; seeing the reflected lightening flashes glistening off the sheet of water covering most of the farm. As close as I'll get to seafaring on the farm.

Speaking of love, I love Goretex. I came in after about 1/2 hour outside in the downpour, with only one wet sleeve where I had my hand up the downspout when the clog broke through....

One of my tasks was to trek out to put the rams back in their pen, after grazing on an odd corner of future garden.

And then there was caring for the bees. When we walked out to the Torii mid-afternoon, as we approached the sheep pen area, I thought someone had thrown a bulky brown sweater over the red side gate down the lane. How odd--I couldn't think of anyone who had been out that way for awhile. As I walked nearer, I realized it was moving more than a sweater ought to move. It was--writhing?!? It was, in fact, a swarm of honeybees draped over the gate and post.

I called and left a message for the beekeeper, but never heard back from him. As I drove home from an evening meeting across town, suddenly I thought of the bees on the gate--the intense, inescapeable thought that I needed to go provide them with shelter on this stormy night. I've found that when I am near the hives, I seem to sense what they are feeling--generally an infectious, boundless, bubbling, contented joy. There is a certain "voice" to the the wordless sense they seem to be conveying to me, one that is very different from the "voice" the sheep use to psychically remind me they are out of some necessary feedstuff. It was unusual to hear it so clearly from so far away.

When I got home, I mentioned this to J. and A. They pretty well had my head convinced that bees would have sensed the storm moving in, and better shelter than the fence post. But my "gut feeling" kept saying they were still there, and would appreciate cover.

So along with my other rescue efforts--the rams, the roof--I took a bucket and put it upside down over the post. Then I draped a piece of shade cloth over it. The swarm had consolidated since the afternoon, and instead of each insect moving at random, now each bee was carefully aligned, motionless, with its head pointing up, arranged like shingles. They didn't move at all when I put the bucket over them. Probably it squashed the bees on the very top of the post, but that's life, to a bee. They give up their lives at random, whether it's due to an accident or deliberate murder.

Why did we walk out to the Torii in the first place? To scatter some of Dad's parents' ashes there. My sister from New Mexico was visiting, for the first time in years, and had brought the remains with her from my uncle. So Mom and Dad and G. and I had a simple, straightforward, impromptu ceremony at the place on the farm where the very most special creatures are returned to earth. Me, too, someday, I hope.

G. quoted a poem that we had all memorized when we were children, just because we liked it. It's by WWII poet Don Blanding, from his book Pilot Bails Out. I had entirely forgotten it, but as G. spoke the first few words it came rushing back.

Here marks the place where a good friend stood
And did the things that he said he would.
Scattered my ashes, the wind diffused them--
But while they were me, God knows I used 'em.

My atheist Grandfather would have appreciated the casualness of this event, just as he would have appreciated that my sister drove through the town where they had lived for years on her way here with the ashes. They loved to travel.

They died many years ago--soon after I first moved to Lawrence. So it was not a ceremony of loss or grief, but of simple remembering. There is probably no one reading this who knew them, except my parents. But just as some newspaper somewhere probably reported the fact of their death, it seems appropriate to record the dispersion of their ashes--some to the wind, and some buried in the living soil of the farm they never saw, but which they would have loved to visit.

1 comment:

bellananda said...

N: Just catching up on reading my favorite blogs. I'm sorry to hear about your cat passing, but I'm so glad you were able to be there with him in the end. What a beautiful, heartrending story.

Regarding this post, I have to tell you that I saw my first two swarms of bees last week (both hanging in the same tree near my raised-garden beds), and I felt a similar vibe to what you described. There was such a joy and peace to their graceful movements, and their buzzing was like a whispering of nature's secrets to the willing listener. (Sappy enough? haha) I could've stayed there all evening. I'm glad your swarm was still there for you to protect somewhat -- how interesting, the defensive arrangement they had themselves in! I wish I could've seen it.

Best, sb