Here on the farm, we have 3 fabulous beehives.
Bees are amazing creatures. The way they all work together for the benefit of the hive as a whole is inspiring. Everyone has their job and as long as they all do theirs the hive is pulling together and will survive from season to season. Bees play to their strengths and create something so versatile and delicious, yet healing. (If you have seasonal allergies, find some local honey.)
Lisa is our Beekeeper. She’s actually very allergic and doesn’t eat the honey. Neither does her husband, really. She loves the meditation which comes with these industrious beings. She comes to our farm, suits up, attends to the needs of the hive, and ensures their health year after year. She’s amazing and she’s taught us so much. She’s inspiring and I often find myself at a loss as to how to express my gratitude for her knowledge, willingness to teach, and love for our collective bees.
We have learned about splitting a hive before a swarm so you can continue with the same mild temperament. She’s taught us about sugar water in the Spring and hive wraps in the Winter. Health ailments, how and why they cleanout in the fall, and adding supers so they have space to build are tips of the iceberg compared to the knowledge she has.
In past years we have worked side by side with her. Often it’s been Jay learning each step of the way and I honestly think his favorite has been how to spot a queen. There are a few online forums he follows and one will occasionally post a “Can You Find The Queen” image. He digs in and is SO proud of himself he has to share it with me when he locates her.
This year, with Covid, Lisa asked to work with the bees without us. It meant she could feel safer and still commune with nature. We agreed with her request which means we’ve supported her from afar. I often ask if there’s anything she needs so I can readily provide for her next visit.
This time she asked me to cut up the burlap. Burlap is what they use in the smoker to help calm the bees when you need to go deeper into the hives. When they smell the smoke they start to eat the honey to protect the harvest which means they aren’t attacking you as you attend to their other needs. And, yes, bees have needs.
I emphatically agreed to cut it up and make sure she has it for her next visit. I made a note in my head and kept working on my current project. About 2 weeks later I came across the uncut burlap and mentally kicked myself for failing to take care of it as promised. My second thought was, “I hope she hasn’t come and found out I didn’t follow through.” And then I carried it into my house and placed it on my entry bench so I would remember to cut it that evening as we watched a Planet Earth film.
I don’t know if you’ve ever cut burlap, it can be a bit of a mess and if you don’t have good scissors it can be a project.
I curled up on the floor and had a plastic bag under everything to catch the little falling fibers. My scissors sucked and yet I finished the first chunk of fabric before calling it an evening. I put it all back on the bench so I would remember to finish it the next day and yet felt good about having a stockpile if she came by.
The next day I grabbed the burlap, this time an old coffee bean bag, new scissors, and headed into the sunshine to finish my job. These scissors were SOOO much better. Still not like cutting paper or “normal” fabric, yet still hugely improved from the night before.
I got about halfway through the bag and the thought entered my mind,” I could stop now. I don’t really have to finish this. My hand and forearm are a bit sore and with as much as is already in the bag, no one would know. I could save this for when they get low again.”
And then a quote from C.S. Lewis came into my mind: “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”
This thought, at this exact moment, brought a smile to my face.
And then I took a pause.
How ironic it would jump into my mind.
Who are you (or who am I) when no one is looking?
When the doors are closed.
The opportunity to let your guard down, remove the mask, stop being “On”, Who are you in those moments?
Do you treat those around you with love and respect?
Do you treat YOURSELF with love and respect?
Do you find yourself complaining about your lot in life? Or perhaps it’s time to sink into the couch in relief for surviving another day.
Do you brood on something or someone? Or is there room for nurturing, forgiveness and safety?
Do you follow through even when no one will know if you did, or didn’t?
I was blessed to spend some time crafting with a dear friend today. As we laughed, connected, and created, a Blake Shelton song came on the radio which just solidified my desire to write about; who we are, really.
“My oh my, you’re so good looking
Hold yourself together like a pair of bookends
But I’ve not tasted all your cooking
Who are you when I’m not looking?
Do you pour a little something on the rocks?
Slide down the hallway in your socks?
When you undress, do you leave a path?
Then sink to your nose in a bubble bath?
I wanna know
I wanna know
I wanna know (When I’m not looking)
Do you break things when you get mad?
Eat a box of chocolates ’cause you’re feelin’ bad?
Do you paint your toes ’cause you bite your nails?
Call up momma when all else fails?
Who are you when I’m not around?
When the door is locked and the shades are down?
Do you listen to your music quietly?
And when it feels just right, are you thinkin’ of me?
I wanna know
I wanna know
I wanna know (When I’m not looking)”
I love the idea that he recognizes who you see out in the world and who you see in the comfort of a relationship could be starkly different. Or perhaps you’ve found a beautiful creature, so comfortable in their own life and being, they are the same and you know what to expect.
I finished that burlap.
Every last bit.
I knew I would feel dishonest if I hadn’t. And with that final cut, I was happy I followed through. The only person who would have known I didn’t finish was me. And my own conscience was enough to carry the day. The idea of not finishing wasn’t ever really an option.
Who am I when no one’s looking?
Who are You?
And is there anything you’d like to change?