I’ll Bee in The Garden, Waiting… Again
©2017 by Ilona Elliott
Spring seems to have settled itself in, finally, and there are all kinds of blooms out in the garden…waiting, waiting, waiting for the bees to get to work. They haven’t even clocked in yet, so we all wait, and wonder, where are they?
I haven’t the heart to research the state of the bees in Western Washington. Last year our farmer’s market bee keeper had no local honey from hives to sell us. He blamed it on the cool finicky weather, and this year is looking almost as bad and the winter was even wetter and colder, so it’s hard to say how difficult the times have been for our local hives. Saddest and most concerning of all, there aren’t even any bumble bees out there. There are almost always bumble bees to do the early work of pollination. In the past, on cool days, I sometimes found them asleep in the rhododendron blossoms and could startle them back into wakefulness with a gentle poke of a warm finger. I miss their cheerful buzzing. I’ve been awakened from many a garden reverie by their presence on a nearby bloom.
I don’t use chemicals of any kind on this property, so I always feel like I’m doing my part to support the pollinators, but I wonder if there has been a complete collapse of the eco- system infrastructure they count on, or if I am just being alarmist. I hope that it’s the latter, and that tomorrow or the next day, they will be out there, hard at work, doing what they were born to do. That’s how it is sometimes, one day there are no bees, and the next, the whole property is buzzing with their industrious activity.
It occurs to me that I’m a lot like the bees, born to work in the garden, to be outdoors, my destiny and happiness tied to the earth’s. It’s a fragile state of affairs for my heart these days. I can’t predict what the outcome will be for our one and only home planet, but if the people who gather and study the data and understand the science are concerned, so am I. I would love to believe that they are wrong, that they are being alarmist about the direction the climate is heading, but as someone who has closely observed nature for over five decades, I see changes that make me uneasy too. And while my study of nature isn’t academic, it is informed by a deep connection to the earth and it’s systems, something I have tried to educate myself about since I first became interested in the ecological sciences as a sixth grader in Mrs. Bloxsom’s class.
Lately, I’m reminded of the logical, down to earth and heart felt warnings of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, which I read as a young woman, newly transplanted to the lush, diverse, and powerful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. Her book was highly controversial when it was published and she was discredited and attacked by the chemical industry at the time, but the science backed up her predictions and gave birth to the environmental movement that is now warning us again of a pending ecological disaster that could change life on earth forever…and ever and ever.
None of us can say with precise certainty that the climate will change as predicted or what the exact consequences will be. But neither can we say with certainty that it won’t or that the effects are not a result of man made greenhouse gases. I, for one, am not willing to gamble on this one. Especially with the potential losses being so great. So I’m an advocate for doing something NOW to address climate change. I understand that there will be economic costs, but there will also be benefits if we lower emissions, transition to renewable energy sources, and create more sustainable and manageable power and transportation infrastructures. It’s not a question of whether or not we CAN do it, but whether or not we WILL.
The idea that we could be warned and warned of the possibility of an upcoming global event that our children’s children would surely suffer from and that we would do nothing to at least attempt to divert the disaster for them is extremely distasteful to me. I am a big believer in being grateful, not just in words, but in deeds, for the gifts we are given.
Our earth is an incredible gift. It is wondrously and beautifully made. Whether you believe that it was wrought by the hands of God or by the forces of nature and the laws of physics is immaterial. Either way, it deserves and demands our respect and gratitude, in deeds not just words, for giving us life and giving it to us abundantly. NOW is the time for us to give back. It’s the only reasonable response. It’s not too much to ask. Because regrets a bitch, but regret of that magnitude is disastrous.