The bees are back. You may remember that our colony of last year suddenly swarmed up and moved on to a better neighborhood. A mystery, and their owner, Allen, doesn’t know where they went. Or why. They just did.

So he had to buy a new queen and her colony, put them in a box, bring them here, and pour them into the beautiful hand-crafted hive under the little oak cluster. This operation had to wait until the cows were moved out of this pasture, as they would otherwise surely rub against and knock over the bee’s home.

“So how do honey bees survived the winter, anyway?” you ask. “Don’t most of them simply die?” Good question. Most do, I learn, but this particular species of bee, apis mellifera, has a strategy which has them huddling together, surviving all winter on the honey they’ve stored and something called bee bread. When extra cold, they shiver as if to fly, but stay stationery and the friction of hundreds of the little creatures warms them all.

“Very cool, but what happens when we’ve stolen their honey?” Right. Apparently the colony produces two to three times the volume of honey they need in order to survive the winter. Bee keepers can thus harvest the excess without compromising the colony. Why, exactly, the bees over-produce I do not know.

Anyway, the cows have been moved away from the pasture near the house and down toward the barn. Much better. While the chickens are cute, rushing to meet me with their funny two-legged waddle, the steers, not so much. They’re not threatening, exactly, just imperious. Entitled. Give us what we want, right now, or we’ll bellow your silly little fence down. (On consideration of their future, okay, carry on?)

When a young child, I wanted to be a cowgirl. I realize now that I didn’t really want anything to do with actual cows. It was all about the horse I longed to have. Me and the purple sage. That didn’t work out, but here I am! Be careful what you wish for! (Don’t misunderstand. I love these ugly, dirty, noisy, bossy animals. At a distance.)

“You’re so lucky, living in the country, with the animals and chores you probably don’t have to go to some gym to get your exercise.” Hahahaha. Good one.

Like the rest of you, who probably had a gym somewhere and a trainer or zumba classes, or tai chi, or yoga, we also had a gym. Up until. For a while we worked out in our garage “gym” outfitted with a few accessories, like a TRX scrappy thing, a couple of benches, some weights, and a treadmill. Going out there on a cold winter’s morning, in between the cars, boots, recycling bins, spare refrigerator? I’m not complaining! Yes, we are lucky, thank you for reminding me. (Jesus.)

But we did it. Sometimes. Then our son Peter suggested that we might like to join him and Allison once a week on Zoom-like training sessions with their personal trainer, Nancy. Why not? It seemed to work, and although Nancy is very, very good, she was simultaneously managing two active Californians and two old Oregonians. Whatever that means. We’d be exhausted for the rest of the day. Then Peter had another bright idea. He works out alone with Nancy on Fridays, and we could join him then, for half-hour sessions. That worked for a time, until Peter was unable to take his Friday one day, and did we want the time, alone, with Nancy? Okay, sure.

We’ve only done it once, but we have seen the future. It is sweet to see our family, briefly, once a week, but seriously. I didn’t think I’d like working out via Zoom, but, I do. (Vik says their grand kid Jordan suggested that they should buy Zoom stock. Don’t know if they did, but, smart kid!) Now I think we’ll never go back to “our” gym, Snap Fitness, even when Covid is a distant, dim memory.

Thank you for coming to my rescue with book recommendations after my little rant last post! Here are two ideas which are exactly what I wanted: Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce, which Jeanne Ederer (Jenny’s m-in-law) suggested. “Two spirited women, one journey to the edge of the world.” I haven’t read it yet, but Jeanne says she laughed out loud reading it. Perfect.

And: One Long River of Song, by David James Duncan. As he’s an Oregonian, you may have read some of his fiction. But this! OMG. Vik said she actually sobbed while trying to read a bit to Gordon. Vik? Sobbed? You have to pay attention to that. It’s because it’s so heartbreakingly beautiful and profound and and . . . it’s a collection of thought pieces, whew. Try to find both of these books.

And here’s a suggestion of my own: Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m listening to, not reading it, and my suggestion is to follow my example, as the reading is so good. I’m rationing it because I’m addicted. Great writing (duh) and a compelling, amazing story.

Now the sun is shining, I found a frozen chunk of Gumbo in the freezer, so dinner is thawing. I’ll go see if there are any eggs today, and if so, post a photo. Excuse me, be right back.

Three chickens, two eggs. Someone taking the day off, but that’s fine. Go enjoy this nice day, ’cause I’m going to! See ya.

2 thoughts on “APRIL, CONT.”

  1. Good book ideas—thank you! And glad the Zoom fitness is working out—sounds much better!
    🐝 🐝 🐝

  2. Corrections from your copy editor: One Long River of Song has an INTRODUCTION by David James Duncan (author of The River Why of some years ago — a classic of the NW canon.) He and the actual author, Brian Doyle, were lifelong friends as the introduction will attest. Brian Doyle has sadly died too young.

    And you need bees’ in the 2nd paragraph (vs. bee’s) I know you’re a stickler for these things, and you can flag it for correction in your upcoming memoir.

    I suspect the overproduction of honey is evolutionarily adaptive so that people like you will readily host and protect colonies of bees in lovely little hand crafted hives beneath placid clusters of oak.

    Trivia for you from today’s Sunday comics puzzles section: “Chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs while chickens with dark earlobes lay brown eggs.” Now go out, examine those chicken earlobes at close range and report back.

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