Friday, April 29, 2011

bee it

now and then i get to rep the skagit valley food co-op at local events.  i go to fairs of all sorts and sit and stand and chat and laugh.  i hand out brochures about functional foods and maps of walking trails.  sometimes i have free samples of strawberry/banana flax swirl or packets of tea.  now and then there's a raffle basket stuffed with random items like protein powder and gluten-free crackers.  i talk to strangers.

i try to tailor the information to the event.  my boss-lady, wow- i suddenly love that title and will do my best to call jodie this from now one, is real good at helping me out with this.  she packs up the info, prints out the parking passes and stocks the rolling basket with extra copies of anything i might need.  so for the women's health fair there was lots of nutrition information and at the farm-food-fair there was lots of local farm conversations and informations.  and last night, for the mount vernon high school, there were bees.

last weekend i missed the opportunity to watch the documentary "Vanishing of the Bees" which my co-op showed as part of Earth Day- the one day in the last 157 that was sunny- and i could not go inside for anything more than water.  i thought about the movie and thought about the bees several times though.  bees are a theme for me.  let me explain further.

first- i remember my mom having a bee hive in our suburban backyard of torrance, california.  i remember watching her put on her white, webbed hood and tend to them.  i was in the garage- terrified of the bees- staring out through the dusty window- sitting atop the coarse worktable littered with screws and wires.  it seems we only had bees for a short while, but there was a mystery to it all that still pulls at me.

then- i find a free book in the staff lounge on goddesses and ceramics.  two of my favorite things.  maybe it was more than that- but those are the two things that stand out.  i still have this book.  as i was flipping through it i stopped at a tile of a bee goddess.  her head and torso are human.  she has wings instead of arms.  her hips are wide and stripped and come to a point, a stinger.  and when you see the bee goddess once- you see her everywhere.  she's there in the museum of pueblo art in albuquerque painted on a pot by a hand long since gone that used a thin strip of yucca as a paintbrush and dirt as paint.  she's there in my random sketches, in the slim margins of space in my brain left over after a day of mothering, and she's outside right now- in my neighbor's yard, in the beehive that sits under the plum tree.

this knowledge of bee as goddess is deep and true.  and like much deep and true knowledge we have lost touch with it in our daily life.  most know that bees are good.  we like honey.  we like flowers.  we like fruit and veggies.  oddly enough, it may be that our interest in honey and flowers actually harms bees.  some bees are fed sugar-water so the honey can be harvested for us.  some flowers and fruits and veggies are sprayed with pesticides to keep them "healthy" only to reek havoc on the bees.  worst still, some pesticides are "systemic" which means it becomes part of the dna of the bees, and maybe, anything- anyone else who also eats that plant.  maybe their dna shifts too.

so as science night got closer i wanted to share knowledge about bees, and as a first step i watched the movie.  i thought my kids could watch it with me, but twenty minutes into it seren deemed it too sad to watch and went outside to play.  he would wander back in and yell at the television "why can't they stop using pesticides?!"  at one point, both boys gone outside, i just broke down crying.  was it the knowledge that 2 billion bees disappeared one day from the rolling hills of california? or the way the french beekeepers protested outside of Bayer corporation?  or maybe just a simple shot of a bee flicking through a sunflower?  i don't know what set me off- that's not unusual really- but suddenly this simple bee, which is not so simple really, she was me.  she is me.

what we do to nature we do to ourselves, because we are nature.  we forget it.  we hide it.  we deny it.  but there is nothing that impacts a bee, a frog, a field, a fire that does not impact us.  all the elements that are within us are from this earth.  when the immune system of bees are weakened by the systemic pesticides making them more susceptible to parasites, fungus and virus- our immune systems are weakened.  when the nervous system of bees are impacted to the point that young bees forget the dance- or maybe never were able to learn it-  and cannot find their way back home- then our youth also have trouble learning how to dance, how to find home.

i went to this fair with this movie and handwritten signs tacked onto a burlap-covered foam board.  i sat across from taylor's shellfish farm where i watched mollusks clean-up murky water and next to paccar who make peterbuilt trucks near the skagit county dump- and everytime a person stopped at my table i would ask "have you heard about colony collapse disorder?"

that's what it is called- the vanishing of the bees.  because when the bees don't come home- the colony collapses.  in truth, the science isn't there to even tell us for certain what is happening to the bees- but i told each one of those people about systemic pesticides because it is no doubt part of the problem.  and getting them out of our food, our air, our water, our bees, our heads, our beds, our lives- well, i think that's part of the solution.

and you should listen to me.  because i am a bee goddess.  good news- so are you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

over the wire

one reason why i wanted chickens is because i am kind of afraid of them.  i have unrealistic expectations about them too.  like when i want to pick one up i want them to act like a dog or a cat, a friendly one, and at least stop running so i can pick them up.

but they don't do that.  especially if they aren't your chicken.

we came home last night to discover the neighbor's chicken in our yard- one of them, they have several.  all the other gals were locked up tight in the coop.  this poor ameraucana was pacing at the fence line trying to get back to her peeps. 

seren and i set to it.  whenever we got close to it she's try to climb through the fence, squawk and flap her wings.  it was loud and big and i retreated.  seren did too.  i laughed at us and kept remarking how silly it was to be scared of her even though i still could not get a hold of her.  if i was a coyote i would go hungry.

i gave up.  walked inside to call the neighbor- she said she'd send someone over.  but then seren was  able to get the chicken and toss her over the fence.  he cornered her and then with his thin arms stretched out in front, his face scrunched and turned he grabbed hold of her and lifted her rump up over the hogwire to the familiar grass of her yard.  the neighbor gals were there to open the coop.

i did it! he yelled. seren bounded toward me with pride springing out of him like a water from a sprinkler.

i overcame my fear!  i have courage!

just like that.  he did it.  then this morning the chicken was back.  and again he tossed it right over the fence.  now that fear that was there is replaced by knowledge.  unknown has been conquered.  from chicken to courage.  courage from chicken.