Friday, October 11, 2013

comforts and creatures

It's true fall here.  The change of light, the chill, the colors.  The days feel more affected by our adaptations to this change of season.

The days are getting shorter, with less time for the kids to play outside before it gets dark and cold after school.  

And the chill. Especially in the morning.  Making it hard to get out from the warmth of our beds.  It makes each of us a bit slower in the morning, cozily cocooned beneath our warmer blankets and quilts.

Nicholas, like any self respecting middle school boy, is still wearing shorts, but his teeth chatter as he gets out of the car and moves away from its warmth and enters the gaggle of kids outside his school.  At home, he reads on the couch under a pile of warm blankets.  And Julia?  Careful consideration of what she wears, and whether it looks the way she wants it to paired with whether it will allow her to move and run and feel comfortable, are all covered up quickly and hidden beneath one of two warm and thick fleeces, her efforts hidden for a bit until midday.

Elliott is all about the fuzz these mornings.  Fuzzy pants, but only fuzzy on the inside.  Fuzz on the outside makes him feel self conscious.  Secret fuzz.  Needing a bit of extra cozy, a bit of extra attention from me to him and to his clothing it feels, but not wanting others to know of this need.

In the mornings, he carries around small fuzzy stuffed toys, tucked under his arm, sitting next to him at the breakfast table.  At home, his need for fuzz does not need to be hidden.  And as he moves toward school each morning, he leaves these items behind with me, and walks down the street in his secret fuzzy pants.  The day warming with the sun, fog burning off.  He heads off to school.

As we dash to the car each morning, the kids throw in backpacks and lunch boxes and my job during their settling in to the backseat?  Is to crank the heat.  They shiver and pull their fleeces down over their hands.  And then we drive, usually running last minute vocabulary words, spelling reminders, after school plans.  And I scan their faces in the rear view mirror, doing my last visual check in to see how they are doing, are they ready for school, both in tangible schedule and homework ways but also emotionally ready to face this day.

After walking the kids in to school this morning, I found this.  In Elliott's car seat.  He set it up apparently as we spilled out of the car and I pulled backpacks out of the rear of the car.  Knowing it would be there for him when he returned from school this afternoon.

The eyes carefully tucked over the seat belt.  The small fuzzy creature that I noticed Elliott quietly snuggling with and stroking as I ran flashcards with Nicholas and Spanish with Julia.  Taken care of, placed lovingly.

Once home, I came upon this, in the bathroom.  Presumably set up by Elliott when I asked him to feed the cat this morning.

Another creature left behind, here for him when he gets home.  I am sure that he knows right where he left it. Reminding himself that he is going away, but he will be back.  And I also think that this boy, this animal lover, was leaving Purple Ball Hippo behind for Battie the cat to have some comfort of her own while he was away.  

We all need our tangible comforts and reminders now and then, eh?

For me this morning, this cold chilly morning, it was a fire.  And some toast.  And then of course, a batch of bread in order to restock my bread habit.  

I watched the sun, and the thermometer, waiting for the warmth to return to the day.  And when it had, when it was finally warm enough, I dashed about to gather what I needed for my hive inspection today, needing to attend to some fall management of one of the hives, to fill some feeders, and to check in on whether the treatment for mites was humming along in the other.  

In my stronger hive, I am on my second round of Apiguard mite treatment, a tray of natural thymol based miticide laid inside the hive above the brood nest that the bees work to remove and thus carry throughout the hive.  The thymol is picked up by their fuzzy bodies and spread everywhere they move.  As this work of the bees goes on inside the hive, I did an external check in.  The bee equivalent of my rearview mirror check in with the kids.  I pulled out the bottom board of the hive, and looked for dead mites that fall down through the hive as the bees work to remove them from each other and also falling as they die from the treatment.

The roundish reddish brown thing with the legs in the center?  That's a mite.  Dead, on my bottom board.  Nice work Apiguard.  I counted 73 mites on the board today.

Then over to the other hive.  To check in on the queen.  To see how the hive is coming along with a new egg layer, a new gene pool, all at a rather precarious time for such changes, as the nectar becomes scarce and the warmth leaves the days a bit each day.

That's her with the red dot on her back.  Bonnie marked her for me a few weeks ago, both of us so excited our hands were shaking.  And these bees?   All the red dotted queen's babes.  Well, her genes and some Maine Man genes.  Amazing.  Her population is high, the bees look healthy.  There was evidence of a small and hopefully growing brood nest.

One of the things I was looking for was to see how this hive was doing with storage of pollen and honey.

A frame of capped honey.  Food.  For the winter.  They are watching the sun, the light, the temperatures as well.  Preparing and changing their daily rhythms.  Waiting a bit longer to head out of the hive each day, waiting for the sun, lower in the sky each day, to hit the hive, to journey out on their foraging adventures.  

And I, as I watch my kids, monitor them for readiness for school each day, giving them what they need for comfort and warmth, these needs a little different each day, watch the bees as well.  We all seem to be doing this work quite capably, here, in our own ways.

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