bee inspired

DSC_0674I know summer is near and that I am sitting in the middle of spring…full blown wonderful spring. I know because the beekeepers are here. I watched them through the green branches of the magnolias,  in bee suits and moving supers that will, by mid-summer, be filled with honey from my little place in this world. It is all so comforting and wonderful, watching man within Nature and knowing, somehow, no matter what else is happening, Nature goes on. The bees will collect nectar and the beekeepers, myself include I am happy happy to say, will extract honey when the summer has distended into fall and the cycle continues.

 bees leavingI was in one of my hives this morning before it was too hot but after most of the worker bees had left for the day. My intention was to add a super before the May flow and just do a general look at the colonies. While looking in wonder, I noticed a particular worker bee amongst the thousands of other bees. This little bee had, I believe intentionally, attached herself to a dead bee and was working so hard and diligently to remove the dead bee from the hive – bees love to clean and they keep the hive very tidy. I suppose it was so difficult, being the same size as the dead bee and it being “dead weight” but I watched her stumble and literally fall but she never gave up. Eventually, she reached the edge of the super and made a dive with the dead bee towards the ground. Perhaps it was an unintended fall; I do not know. She disappeared from my sight but left me with some form of determination somehow, determination to overcome the anxiety or fear of a big job and know that if I stick to it, I can do it. Silly little story but I felt inspired by this tiny creature; she continues my belief that Nature holds all of the truths.

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a walk and a wish

A walk through the yard…my pictograph of early spring. I just wanted to post snapshots of the beauty of nature in March…not much to say really, just a visual nudge to go outside and find the beauty in your yard.

My yard and my photographs are both very rudimentary. I might like the look of beautiful well manicured spaces but I know I am not that person…so I embrace the “natural” look. 🙂 I hope you find some inspiration…

keep flowers

 

I cut the grass but left this large patch of wildflowers for the bees. There was no way I could mow over this. I know these early spring flowers are here for a very big purpose, if nothing less than their beauty, and everyone mows them down??? I think we need our wildflowers, flowers that used to be in fields everywhere but those fields are being filled with concrete  now. Anyway, I kept mine.

 

viola2

 

Near the house are more wildflowers and a scattering of violas I  planted this fall.This should be a painting.

 

tree in tree

 

Here is a beautiful example of the “tree in a tree” occurrence I wrote about a while back. There was a little oak tree that was growing along side of my fig tree and was so persistent. Either the wind blew the seed there or a bird dropped it right next to my planted by me tree, either way, it was unwelcome. Although I kept cutting the little annoying sapling down, it kept coming back.  For a few years, I was a warrior, man against Nature, but then I realized, Nature should do as she pleased and I gave up the futile fight. As you can see, She was very right…I have several more of these natural plantings going on right now in my yard.

 

st joe

 

A scattering of St. Josephs. It seems early, but then, we had very little winter. These flowers are from Miss Sue’s yard, a yard that began along the Bayou Teche over 100 years ago. Miss Sue is the sole reason I love the garden, that is where we became friends. I also associate these flowers with the St. Joseph Altars from my sons’ past; their school, Catholic High School, used to celebrate this feast day

 

 

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Into the bee yard…can you see all of the stirring and activity? So much nectar to gather and honey to make…hence, the wildflowers. It’s a busy time for the bees.

 

 

new bee

Here is my new hive. The new queen is in the bottom box and , hopefully, she will gather her worker bees and start a colony.

 

little chick

Can you see one of the baby chicks? Drew made this coop for me and I drove to Erath to buy baby chicks to fill it up with. This batch of chickens will start laying at the end of summer. I have Black Sex Links, Ameraucanas, White Leghorns, Barred Rocks, and Rhode Island Reds.

 

rooster

And my rooster…he rules. I have several rooster sticks around the yard to protect myself from him. I respect who he is; he would give his life for his flock, but he sees me as a threat, which  is so wrong…I am his ally. Anyway, he’s a mean dude when it comes to protecting his hens and I have been the recipient of his wrath a couple of times.

 

apple

Here is the field of wildflowers. I realize it will be tough on the lawnmower when I have to cut this but I have decided it is best to leave these flowers for the bees and birds and all that matters. The shovel is where an Anna Apple Tree will be planted today – amongst the Pear Trees.

 

pecan

Here are the buds on a pecan tree telling all of us in South Louisiana that Spring is officially here; this is the tried and true method here and it is always right.

 

crawfish hole

 

Do you know what this is?

 

bluebird

 

My Bluebird House…there was a scattering of vibrant blue feathers on the ground beneath this house…Nature can be cruel.

 

wish

I end with a Dandelion…and a wish that you find happiness in your own backyard.

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too early

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I just saw the first robin of “spring”…they are coming out of the woods now because the earth is warm enough for the earthworms to ascend…we have had very little winter in the Deep South. Anyway, just posting this event with a bit of sadness and much confusion; the little robin actually seemed a bit confused and bewildered as he or she suddenly scouted the yard on this late February day. My sadness comes from the lack of contrast of the seasons; I want to feel all of them so that the next one is defined and delicious.

My friend, Kathleen Hayek, lives in New York and I remember her telling me how wonderful spring was in NYC, everyone was so happy to leave the winter behind and were able to appreciate the gifts of spring – the difference, the contrast is what makes each season so glorious. Anyway, that did not happen here this year. My citrus trees have fruit and blossoms on them at the same time, my plum trees have already flowered and there’s a baffled robin in my yard looking for earthworms…p s

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ground hogs and roosters

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On this day of the groundhog, I must write something about the rooster. As I have written, I have chickens. I love “keeping” them. I love getting baby chicks and caring for them as they grow and then developing a bit of “relationship” with them as hens. I love the different colors and kinds and feathers and shapes and I love the fresh eggs.

Anyway, I accidentally have a rooster now. This rooster’s job is to protect the hens and he is one scary dude! I have what has been declared, by me, a “rooster protection stick” by each outside door because he comes after me with hostility each time he hears the door slam – only me, never never my husband, just me??? He scares me and sometimes I hate him but I know he is doing his very important job so, I live with his rules. The last rooster I had actually gave his life to protect his flock from a predator – they do not back off from threats to their flock! Anyway, I have learned a lot from this little barnyard microcosm of mine and last night, I learned something new; roosters are not monogamous.

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I have 2 chicken coops, henhouses, and he lives in the bigger coop with the older hens, this is where he has been since he was 1 day old, this is his flock. Well, last night when I went to close up the coops, the rooster was in the other coop with the “younger” girls. I had to chuckle and share…I have always looked to the natural world for answers and with that in mind, what conclusions could I draw?  

Happy Groundhog Day

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a good bye to January

 

DSC_0019I apologize to you winter. I kept waiting for your return, you were here just a few days ago – ice in the birdbath, citrus tree fatalities, howling north winds and clear night skies but you never returned, so I cut the grass. I felt bad doing it because I know the leaves are there for a reason, protecting the St Augustine and I know there are many small creatures nesting amongst those remnants of autumn but you never showed up to complete your job, the grass is growing in January! My usual meter to anticipate spring is hearts and chocolate… Valentine’s Day, not mid-winter.

I can faintly hear you as you feebly send the easterly winds through the fireplace rattling the fireboard a bit. As I listen, I think maybe you will return in February. I hope so, for you have much work left to do. I will wait for the groundhog to decide.

oak treeIn the meantime, I cut the green grass and noticed something. It seems to me, when a tree is nearing the end of its life, old fruit trees specifically, I find another tree growing alongside of it, usually an oak tree, a native tree, put there by the wind or the birds. It’s as though Nature knows of the impending death and fills that soon to be available spot. I have many examples of that in my yard, places where fruit trees have come and gone and a sturdy little oak tree is ready to fill its spot. Nature knows all.

January wind I hear you at the backdoor, you are almost gone now…already.

 

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wayward winds

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citrusI went outside this morning to pick the tens of oranges that the east winds blew from my trees and I could hear baby birds…the wayward winds and baby birds … confusion in the atmosphere, seems more like March?

 By my own direction, I have baby chicks in the laundry room in late January, a bit early but I was anxious. I picked them up at the United States Post Office last week. I had 8 Ameraucanas– the Easter Egg Chicks – that I ordered and 5 little roosters that just came along for the ride here from east Texas. It is a cruel thing to think of but, the little female chicks are what I buy, for the eggs they will eventually lay, and the company packs a few free roosters in the box to keep the females warm. Oh my! Where is the justice in that? Hmmm…

Anyway, Nature is for real and sometimes it seems cruel and unfair – she does not concern herself with being politically correct – she leaves that to all of us.

 I have only 6 of the 8 Ameraucanas left and 3 of the 5 roosters. It seems that during the night, when they are huddled together under the light, seemingly as one united flock, one will get stepped on and once the chick is down, once it is vulnerable, the rest have no problem continuing to step on it until the little chick dies, usually a slow death. It is a very cruel display of Nature, one of several that I have seen for the 20 plus years I have raised chickens. They will even begin to peck on the smallest chicken – pecking order, the original bullying?

baby chicks I have learned so much from watching this simple animal. They have given me an insight into the darkness and the pureness of nature. What halts this barbaric treatment I write of, is the growth and maturity of the little chicks. I am very attentive (hence, a box in my laundry room) to constantly supply them with food and fresh water to assist or even hasten their growth so they can become strong enough to take good care of their selves and survive. The more care they get, the more they grow. On the other hand, the harsher the treatment, the more brutal the outcome. Wish me luck and hope that most survive to flourish and lay eggs in late summer.

Peace and Love  

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the winds of change

DSC_3571Maybe this is my life now. Maybe my day should be filled with modest daily chores, small ones like dishes washed with geranium scented soap and clean sheets on the line and (always) time for the garden and art and sometimes filling my kitchen with the scent of lemon drop cookies or cinnamon.

Maybe this is when I let go. I let go of the daily routine that can be a “job”, I let go of want and preoccupation of anything material, I let go of the mindset that I have control over anyone’s thinking and with that release, I judiciously welcome anyone’s disagreement with mine, for they too are their own captains. I let go of some of the lofty goals set in my youth, they are a burden to me now- pressure to perform, desire to acquire,  battles to “win”. I have no capacity for that, which went with youth, that inescapable naiveté fueled by innocence, I let that go, gladly.

All that has happened before has had its place in my life, a paramount place, but now the winds have changed, they are gentler and filled with whispers of wisdom and I make the time to listen. The outside noises have become less audible and I mostly hear the sounds inside of my own head, those are the words I adhere to, not the others, not the propaganda. I also hear the humming of people from my past, just a few words here and there that have stayed with me and I keep those close to recall. And, always, I hear the voices of my children, grown now and on their own paths, paths strewn with my prayers and wishes for happy lives. It is a delightful place this age of mine, I am adjusting and embracing with a ways to go, but soon I will see clearly.

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ode to a house

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It’s the smell of home. It’s here. I don’t know if it is the winter day that hoovers over head and brings in heavy air, but “it” is here, finally. I remember it at my parent’s house, that smell from outside that mixed with inside and all of our stuff and all of our lives and whiffs of it made it “home” forever.

This house, this old house, causes me despair sometimes. It always needs something – a roof, a floor, a can of paint, always something. Sometimes I think of leaving it for something new, but, then, today happens and I am caught in its spell again. The spell that only time can create and the place that only this place can be. I know I am a sentimental sap and sometimes I do not like that about myself but most times I welcome this part of my nature, this part that makes me the keeper of memories.

homeThis cold day will fall into a colder night that might freeze the oranges on my trees. It will become a night that allows me to think of things that are little, to visit the places the sunshine blinds me from, those places that only appear in the flames of the fireplace when the wind wails and the dampness seeps in, those places in winter that somehow make us reflective and a bit melancholy as idle thoughts drift to yesterdays. I suppose it is as it should be, this tilt of the planet that keeps us inside and makes us slow down a bit to remember and reflect, to break away.

The tea kettle is nearly empty from the day, the fire needs tending and this old house smells like home.

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keeping it real

 waiting

The yard is abundant on these early December days, at least here in the Deep South. Oddly, even with the shorter days, my hens are still laying at their summer pace and the recent rains have caused my kale and cabbage to flourish and of course, like everyone else here, the orange trees are laden.

ornagesI may have told this story before about my mother as a child during the Depression living in Ville Platte on Beech Street waiting for Christmas morning to find fresh citrus in stockings “hung by the fire”. It seemed such a curious little tale when I was young and she told it to me. But now, I understand it. I understand the resourcefulness in life then as opposed to the surreal waste in it now. Oranges were ripe in December and much needed to prevent colds and flu; what better gift than a gift from the Earth?

 

With that thought, I continue…How better to decorate your house than with the pine cones laying on the ground this December or snippets of holly and Pyracantha or Nandina? And there is bare honeysuckle vines in the woods for wreaths and pine branches low enough to snap and bring inside for fragrance. Camellias are beginning to bloom here and Narcisse bulbs are ready for forcing…this natural list goes on and on and there is no waste and no plastic to recycle. And don’t forget the best holiday display of all, the kitchen, filled with the smell of baked cookies and cinnamon and mugs of fresh coffee waiting for a minute of quiet time amongst the folly that Christmas can cause.camellias

I am prompted to write this in hopes that it may inspire just a few to leave  a bit of the “made in china” on the shelves of corporate stores and find the real gifts of the season right outside your door. And for those purchased gifts we share, each small town is filled with art galleries and crafters and local wares that become unique gifts for friends and family…check out Main Street before you go to the mall – it will make you feel good to shop small and local. Another Momism from my mother this time of year was, “If I can’t find it at Abdallas, I am not buying it.” I love living in that confine of finding gifts within the perimeters of our town – how simple is that?

Anyway, this is my Christmas “message” or perhaps “rant”. Nothing is as it was before and the world has changed since my mother’s long ago childhood – changed in many good ways – but there are still methods and reasoning from the times when people lived closer to the Earth and hovered around their small communities as they supported and cared for one another.

We can continue, tweaked perhaps, by keeping some things “real” for Christmas.

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my pantry

harvest

I often write about my “pantry” that I am enjoying and continuing to create. I picked a few treasures today…satsumas, persimmons and gathered a few eggs. If I were more disciplined, these items could be most of my caloric intake for the day. I also have Kale growing in the garden. I love this. I wanted to share to perhaps motivate you to plant something edible in your yard.

 My sister and I visited a dear friend of our mother’s, Miss Dot, today and she too has a pantry in her backyard, a place to go to that is pure and nurturing. I have some wonderful things to say about this visit and hope to include them in my Sunday column…with her permission.

 Anyway, I took a picture of part of my little harvest and am posting it in hopes it insist you plant some seeds. Digging in the dirt and watching a seed grow is something we can all enjoy,

no matter who we voted for.

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