Friday, April 5, 2013

newbees and bee cowboys

When I was in college, I was in an acapella group.  Yes, I sang my way, in the shape of a croissant, through my young adulthood with a group of women.  These women, a wonderful group of very different individuals who had amazing voices and many other talents as well, were an elite group and one needed to audition to join their ranks.  If it had not been for for a bit of luck and a bit of musical talent, I would never have had an opportunity to hang with these women.  They were strong, opinionated, and frankly, quite terrifying.

One of the songs we sang back then, and that was a favorite of mine because of its lyrics, was When I grow up I want to be an old woman.  There was something very humorous to me about this group of fresh faced women, with the endless rotations and changes and experimentation of romantic relationships that any group of college aged kids undergo, singing about being old women.  Having 150 babies.  With a really old man.

Because really, what we were most destined for, most guided toward in that time period of our life, in the fair institution that I attended, with its feminist majors and its support of the liberal arts, was if anything, away from all of that.  Away from domestic life, away from the constraints of traditional feminine roles.  It was irony, I would say.

I, despite my ability back then to sing and perform on stage, am a very quiet and introverted person.  Social groups remain a struggle for me.  As a mother of young children, it was difficult for me to join new playgroups with our children as we moved from place to place during their early childhood years.  I did it, but I usually ended up becoming friends with a single person from those groups, and some of these individuals have become life long friends I hope.  And in motherhood, I did not have a musical instrument or talent to hide behind, to hold out as a way to prove my worthiness of joining in.  I did have a baby.  And man, were my babies cute.  But hide behind them?  Especially as our children get bigger, I am finding if anything they out you more than they give you shelter.

Case in point.  Yesterday I was walking across the crosswalk to pick up our children from school.  It was the art teacher's day to be out on the street, holding the stop sign to slow and hopefully stop racing cars as the children and their families crossed from the playground into the neighborhood where we all park.  This teacher turned to me and said, so, are you really going to get goats?  

But that is a story...a teaser...for another day.

This is on my mind as I have recently entered a new social group.  And it turns out, it is still as hard for me as it was when I was 13 years old.

For the past few weekends I have been taking a beginning beekeeping class at our local beekeeping store.  Since first seeing Loree Griffin Burns speak several years ago about her research for and resulting children's book about the importance of the honey bees in our food supply and of their troubles given the industrial farming practices in the United States, I have been hooked.  Not to mention my love of this book.

This movie was shown last year in our area and we later showed parts of it to the kids.

So eventually, with some money saving and planning, I landed myself in beekeeping 101 with an order for two packages of Russian bees, due to arrive in several weeks.  As a result, I spent part of the week painting and preparing the hive boxes for their coming residents and have been reading and devouring all things bee for a bit.  And soon, I will be thumping and dumping these lovely ladies into their new home.

Because in addition to my love of books and research and small ways that we can in our own backyard take care of the earth, apparently I have a bit of adventurous spirit.

As part of the adventure, I have joined our local beekeepers club.  As I sat in the parking lot outside the elementary school in which the monthly meeting was taking place, taking some deep breaths as I prepared myself for entering the multipurpose room to a sea of unfamiliar faces, I also was a bit excited.  And this evening did not disappoint.

I think it might have been a little like entering a support group meeting.  Coffee in the back with cups and fixings.  Some small groups talking quietly in bunches here and there.  Some individuals sitting quietly in their chairs, their arms crossed.  Some women had their bags open and were knitting.  There were the wise and seasoned individuals mixed in with some very well dressed and fancy young ones.  There were the intellectuals and the generations old tenders who seemed as though they would tend bees with their eyes closed.  It was one of the most diverse groups of people I have had the pleasure of being a part of in some time.

I sat with a woman from my beekeeping class, happy to have company, and she chatted away with me about my children, her worries about getting her hives painted in time, her long ago marriage...

There was a woman who had been encouraged to share her self-made design for a swarm catching bucket, complete with a telescoping long handle that would take away the necessity of the precarious climbing of a ladder. She was obviously nervous and it was lovely to see how encouraging this group was of her creation.  I am not sure where else a bucket with a collapsable handle would get such praise, where avoidance of ladders is knowingly commented upon, where enormous men in the back row can stand up and talk about how their lil' darlings didn't make it through the winter can exist without being beaten behind the bleachers.  Maybe all these people were in the marching band like me in high school.  But I am so glad to have found them.

But mostly, what I was struck by were the bee cowboys.  The ones that seemed to be totally jazzed by the idea of swarm catching. Lasoo-ing themselves up a new colony of bees.  It seemed to cross generations, and these vigilantes shared jokes and sideways glances in conspiratorial ways that made me feel a bit jealous.

Turns out, when I grow up, I want to be a bee cowboy too.  With tens of thousands of bab...bees.

No comments:

Post a Comment

we welcome comments, but please select a profile below. tree to river does not publish anonymous comments.