This time last year, I would have regarded this fluffy clump as a sign that summer was officially here. This year, I’m thanking it for the hard work it’s done helping our bee population.
I think we have the dandelions to thank for it.
We’ve had apple trees since we moved here. Our plum and pear trees are old enough to flower each year, and the flowering bushes are not new. What is new this year is the profuse flowers that have appeared on every plant, attracting symphonies of laboring bees.
The dandelions seemed to arrive first in all of this miracle. I’m not sure if they brought the bees who brought the flowers or if the late snows brought the flowers who brought the bees, but the dandelions were there first.
The green in our yard can hardly be called a lawn. It gets cut once a week, but we let Mother Nature do the watering and fertilizing, so, to thank these puffs for their contribution, I decided to let them be until they’re ready to fly around the yard, setting us up for another year of miracles.
Well it was bound to happen sooner or later. Apparently you can’t assemble more than three chickens without a clique starting to click because that’s what our Rhode Island Reds have started to do.
There are four Reds and three Americaunas. The chicks are very sweet to us, but they’ve discovered that the tiny white flowers that are growing outside (and inside) the chicken tractor are infinitely more delicious when they are fed to you by humans on their knees (I think the Jim-Bob may have been reading to them from his soon to be published How to Have Your Human Serve You). The Americauna’s take turns yanking the flowers from our hands, but three of the Red’s, whom I am now calling the Plastics, butt in front of their smallest sister every single time.
The boys came up with a strategy of distracting the Plastics with the fluffy flowers on one side of the tractor while I feed Baby Sister her share from the other. It’s worked once or twice, but the Plastics are not your average bird brains. They seem to be catching on, and we’re scratching new ground as we start our field research into Social Emotional Learning for Chickens so our ladies can keep the peace.
Thing2 has been experimenting with the digital projector I use for presentations at school. He’s been projecting video games and Avengers movies on the ceiling and underneath the TV. here’s an idea man, so it should’ve been too much of a surprise when the two of us looked at each other and said, “let’s have an outdoor movie night.“
The other family members were out of the house when the idea got started, and, by the time everyone else got back we had collected a makeshift screen and two plant hangers from which to hang a curtain rod.
Immediately we agreed that we should all watch the original Star Wars. The kids have never seen it on “the“ big screen, but I think this one will be just as good. We just have to rig up THX in the yard before we screen Empire.
When Thing1 was still a pea-picker, he hunched over his Matchbox cars for hours, watching their wheels and gears as he drove them around carpets and vitas he created and telling them their stories. I wish I had written them down because sometimes I think he needs proof as to just how creative he is. I think a lot of people do.
Thing1 is about to turn twenty. He knows how to fix cars and program computers. Anyone who watched him studying the movements of cars as a toddler would say it pretty accurately predicted his mechanical aptitude.
His love of discovering how things work, however, often translates him putting high value on common sense and things that can be proven. When I tell him of the spaceships he conceived and drew, of the stories he told, he answers, “I’m just not all that creative anymore, Mom.”
Yesterday proved him wrong, and this time I got the photos to prove it.
When Thing1’s college closed, his first action, over our strong objections, was to go job hunting. He received two offers as soon as the state closed down both businesses, but his employment history from the previous year earned him the ability to collect benefits during the pandemic (he wasn’t eligible for the stimulus because he’s too much of an adult and too much of a dependent to fall into any category the government considers visible). He’s saving some of that money but, still a teenager for another two months, money can burn a hole in his pocket.
Thursday he announced he was buying a hammock to use at school when it reopens. Then he announced he’d like to test drive at home. He asked the Big Guy and then me if we could think of any appropriately socially distant pairs of trees from which to hang it and, despite being surrounded by trees, we just scratched our heads.
Friday, Thing1 and Thing2 traced our normal route around the house, making incursions in to the forest when this or that pair of trees sparked their interest. They showed us a few ideas, but the Big Guy and I just couldn’t see the right trees for the forest.
Saturday, Thing1 disappeared again and then took his machete and power saw to the woods behind the house. We heard some hacking and then a familiar buzz. Thing1 came back to assure us that the tree he’d taken down had been punky and about to fall anyway and then to invite us to the clearing he’d made. The Big Guy and I started our usual afternoon route and went to where the boys were waiting, Thing2 dancing from foot to foot to show us Thing1’s work.
The boys had found a perfect opening into the forest and created a more defined path to a pair of trees that, somehow, the Big Guy and I had missed the day before. Thing1 had felled one tree and cleared some rosy bush between the two that would support his hammock. Then he indicated the tree-filled slope leading down to the river that will be the view for anyone sitting in the hammock.
Thing1 had pulled a paradise from the mass of trees and rosy bush. When the hammock arrives, he’ll assemble it and give credit for the completed project to his common sense. I’d like to think that it was actually good old fashioned common creativity that helped him identify the perfect spot to meditate on the question.
it’s not a sign of spring. The leaves on the trees have mostly popped already anyway, but it was the ultimate sign of hope.
I went out to the garden to check the progress of the sun in an area I want to prep for later in the summer. The buzzing next to the garden￼ Was so loud I wondered if flies might have been attracted to some poor chipmunk that had attempted to steal squash leaves in the presence of Princess Jane. As I walked toward the apple tree on the west side of the garden, however, I saw hundreds of tiny worker bees￼ toiling among the apple blossoms.
i’ll go back to try to capture them with a better camera, but they were patient as I tried to snap a few pictures as long as I didn’t interrupt your work. I greeted and welcomed them, knowing the returning bees are more than just a sign of spring. They are a chorus of hope.￼