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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Bee-Attitudes

Off the prairie's spine, the four of us just stood there, staring at the symptom.    Our terrible conclusion---the unthinkable cause---so obvious and unanimous.  There could be only one explanation.  I couldn't tell if Anne’s pained expression was sadness or anger.    And now as I write, I still feel that pain.   Then my head begins peeling away the layers, searching for the cause beneath the cause.  “Don’t go down there!"  But like the blonde confronting the haunted basement door, I can’t help myself.    Like watching the blonde, I've a pretty good notion of what horror I’ll find:  my role in this catastrophe.    There’s really only two mysteries.  Will I dare actually look?  And, if I do, what happens next?   But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

Who besides myself just stood there staring?  My sweetie Linda and our guests Carole and Anne.  After Carole and Anne heard us speak at Midwest Mountaineering, Carole (the blog’s shy yet determined woman) asked to visit Home the Land Built.  “Yes, please and always yes!”  Now, after their visit, after our bonding experiences, I’d like to count them among my friends.

What were we staring at?
This is white wild indigo. 

What’s wrong with this picture?  If you shout, “I know”, then you’re way ahead of where I was two years ago.  If not, I invite you to take another creaking step down the stairs. 

What did the four of us notice?   Only one seed pod on the entire plant.   And as we gazed about, each plant held but a few pods.   In bloom, our prairie’s white wild indigo, in their thousands upon thousands, look breathtakingly like this.   

The flowers then form seeds pods---one for each flower, dozens on each plant---which rattle in the winter winds.

What was our terrible conclusion, the unthinkable cause of the missing seed pods?   There could be only one cause.  Lack of pollinators.    Lack of foraging bees. 

Now comes the lonely part of writing.  I wish I was at your side.  I wish I could perceive your feelings as you contemplate “lack of foraging bees?”   I’m wondering if you feel like Anne, Linda, Carole and myself? 

I know how my dear sustainable veggie farmer neighbor Sandy Dietz felt a week ago.  “…more than a little scary,” she confessed in her Whitewater Gardens newsletter.  “…the lack of bees that we have this year.  I really noticed it when I was picking zucchini the other day, and was finding that most the baby fruit was shriveling up and dying.  Not getting pollinated by the way it looked.  That’s when I noticed that there were absolutely no bees around.  Zucchini flowers wide open and not a single buzz.  Very strange.”   Having just walked the 300 foot zucchini row I confirm.  Many pollen-hungry flowers.  Not the buzz of a single bee.

My next step isn’t scary at all:  list the possible causes for the crashing bees.  Loss of habitat.  Pesticides.  Human-engineered disease.  Our historically cold and wet spring (global warming?).    Blah.  Blah.  Blah.    I don’t’ mean blah, blah, blah who cares?  I mean blah, blah, blah we've heard things like this before AND we know nothing will really change.   And nothing will change because this list isn't viscerally scary.  Because suddenly I’m not descending the stairway to my own culpability.  Instead I switched channels  to some kind of public television documentary.    I switched channels…

Suddenly I tumble to the bottom of the stairs.   Choking on the dust, I lift my head, tremble at what I see.  And when I shake off the horror, I want to beg forgiveness. 

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for all the times I've said  I don’t want to know.   I’m sorry that even when I did want to know, I let public TV connect the dots for me.  I mistook being informed with seeing for myself.    I’m sorry I didn't really engage my right to look, not in the Michael Pollan sense.   And mostly I’m sorry I separated myself from the world.   I’m sorry I diminished myself.   I’m sorry that each time I turned my head away from the world, or turned the channel, I turned away from my life.   

What then is my lesson?  What of the seedless indigo?  The fruitless zucchini?  The crashing bees?    What bee-attitude needs composing?   I’m beginning to wonder if life isn't really a whole lot simpler than I ever imagined.  I’m beginning to wonder if the real problem is that I've accepted a myth about a world that is separate from me (and can by and large be ignored). 

What if my vitality---the wholeness of my life--- is inexplicably and inextricably linked to the wholeness of the world?    What if each time I looked at a white flower or a pollen-laden bee, I was really looking at my life?    What if the healing of the world and the healing of myself were one and the same?  Perhaps all I need do is fully live my life---I mean really encounter the world as it is.  See the bee.  Be the bee.  Then hang my head and cry.  Or drop my jaw in ecstatic awe. 

Then, perhaps, I will finally do all I can really do.  Perhaps help create a new world---wholly unlike our opaque grid-tied world---where I don't need an expert to connect the dots, where I can always see if my values are at play.  Can you imagine such a transparent world?   Actually I can.  Every day for the past nine years  I experienced the wonder of such a world as I wrote The Corridor.

I've watched public TV (___ fill in your own favorite "news" here) my whole life, gaining awareness yet changing nothing.   Then, with one look at a single seed pod,  I devote 6 hours to writing this blog.    It’s the difference between reading about Haiti and going to Haiti.  And if Haiti is too far, then come on down to Home the Land Built.  Together we’ll snap off a single seed pod and rattle what remains as we descend the stairs into our own richer lives. 

My Bee-Attitudes will either get me jailed or ignite a cultural revolution or both.  If followed, nobody would buy anything in America.  Not until every American can shout out "I'm free to see!".

My Bee-Attitudes
1.  Say "I want to know it."
2.  Go see it for myself.
3.  If I can't see it, change my life so I can.

Note:  I know the above bears fruit for any valued relationship with "it", be "it" brother or bee.  Question is, what more can I gain by valuing more relationships?


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