A Time To Weep

In the wee hours of the morning my husband and I drove slowly up the east back of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico. Halfway up, I spotted a tiny rainbow colored figure along the side of the road. “Oh no!”, I cried. “A Western tanager”. Just the week before, my friend and I had hiked through this area, marveling at the brightly colored plumage disappearing into the tree canopy, their call indistinguishable from the common Robin.

As we always do, when we see a limp and lifeless or hurt creature on the side of this mountain road, we pull the car over and move the little being to safety, try to offer kindness. With a heavy heart I approached the broken body, it’s eyes already glassy and it’s beak barely moving as it tried to swim to the surface for oxygen, it’s neck broken.

I held this still warm, magical and magnificent being in the palm of my hand, sobbing inconsolably. Somewhere from deep inside, I offered compassion, a prayer of thanksgiving for this brilliant little bird and it’s short sojourn on the planet. Clearly it had collided with a fast moving car.

We had not started the journey like this. Eager for a day away from “sheltering in place”, I was reading to my husband from the recent Summer 2020 issue of Parabola: The Search for Meaning. We wondered and chatted about the stories, “On the Way to Presence”. “When I went from my head to my heart everything was Love“, wrote Ram Dass in his final days. It was a relaxed and joyful way of being together.

And suddenly this.

Life is like that. Constant portals, moving us between life and death. Death and life. Suffering and joy. Peace and fury. Love and despair.

As I hiked, I found my feet pounding the soft dirt trail, as grief gave way to blind rage. All the ecosystems destroyed and dying from human ignorance, darkened imaginations and profit-driven greed. The orangutan orphans in the forests of Borneo, Indonesia and Malaysia, their terrified mothers shot as the saws rip down their forest home for fancy furniture or palm oil in our oil drenched western lifestyles. Massive lighted windowed skyscrapers in Dallas at night, millions of tiny bodies of migrating birds littering the streets at their feet—caught in the strange lights and reflections. Native bees disappearing before our eyes as Caterpillar machines gobble up native plants, paving over the high desert as wealthy Texans move to New Mexico suburbs. The genocide of millions of soft furry bodies beside our national roads as speeding cars blindly run over them, ignorant of their immense suffering and slow moving lives.

My furious rage and grief over this one tiny creature spilled over and suddenly became all the untimely human deaths in the past 3 weeks. Of two beloved women in my circle— sensitive beings of light, art, song, poetry and compassion. And the pandemic, still claiming millions of lives.

Though human suffering is untold, my task it seems, is to grieve and honor the voiceless, silent disappearing non-human species, even as the humans weep for their own. So much loss.

Walk through the world with care, my love 
And sing the things you see 
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow 
And even as you stumble through machair sands eroding 
Let the fern unfurl your grieving, let the heron still your breathing 
Let the selkie swim you deeper, oh my little silver-seeker 
Even as the hour grows bleaker, be the singer and the speaker 
And in city and in forest, let the larks become your chorus 
And when every hope is gone, let the raven call you home

Spell Songs/The Lost Words(based upon the brilliant and ancient Carmina Gaedelica, a Celtic book of nature prayers, poems, songs and liturgies)

The Lost Words: Spell Songs



Even so, in this season of weeping, hope comes to me in the form of a what I think is a rusty patched bumblebee in the mountain altitudes. My Xerces friend says my rusty rumped bee is not exactly this extinct bumblebee. Yet, I imagine that there is still one or many in the wild. I will believe.

So as death rises around us like a tsunami, we all are called to weep. To lament.

My friend Phyllis offers this beautiful prayer/poem for humans as they suffer loss and weep…

3 AM Mountain Standard Time

Stranger—You in the lighted window

on the third floor.

Did virus dreams nudge you awake?

Me, too.

Young mother in Iowa-

This isn’t what you imagined.

Your infant, cradled,

as you long to share the smell of her sweet head 

with others you love.

Young Immigrant—

Your fears are closing around you,

the virus only third on your list

of pressing concerns.

Navajo elder-

So many in the house, you alone awake.

Your ancestors come to you with soft murmurings of

past pandemics.  So much weight.

You fall asleep at last to the heavy breathing of your cousin’s child.

Capitol City politician-

With vague unrest at 3 am,

Pondering where you missed the boat,

the heavy touch of your bad judgement.

Dairy farmer in Wisconsin-

Too early to get up now,

too dark yet even for the birds.

Who will buy your milk?

The smell of spring comes through your open window.

At least there’s that.

Young teen in the city-

Was it the siren that awakened you?>

You wonder if this is the sound of your future.

Will you never have the chance to drink too much at a crowded

party—bodies dancing, pressed together?

A light in a cabin in Alaska-

no one to see it but the wandering moose.

You’re good at isolation.

But you worry if you will ever be touched again.

You in Baton Rouge-

Sleep is just returning to you in the moist heat of night,

accompanied by cricket sound.

Would you ask the crickets to send some sleep my way?

Now it’s 5 am Mountain time.

My poem has been written.

The restless ones on East Coast time

have started their day,

nighttime worries dissolving in sunlight.

I will take myself and my poem back to bed.

And wait for the coming light to

bleach my dark hour

and birth my hope again.

Phyllis Bergman, May 2,2020

I will continue to hike in the mountains, pound off the rage burning in my thighs, bring oxygen to my grief filled lungs, bind up my hurt heart with trees and birdsong and sweet perfumed scents of Ponderosa pine. I will continue to look for the lost and dying in the creaturely world and mourn them…

And I will expect to see the extinct rusty patched bumble bee someday.

Now or Never

Thus entitled was the April 2020 The Rolling Stone’s issue that featured Greta Thunberg and all things climate change. The children’s issue.

Related image

Is it as bad as they claim? It’s worse. From bugapocalypse to acidifying of the oceans to the extinction of a million species. Viruses are only a new expression of climate change and the decimation of the chain of life. It is a wake up call for the profit driven death machinery that political leaders and corporate culture continue to serve. Issues of food and water security loom.

But I know you will stop right here, dear reader, if I continue on this trajectory.

We are a people of hope. We cannot let it lead to hopioid, a false addictive belief, but ultimately to right action in the world. All great social movements have been about ordinary people moving out into the public square. These days our public square is the world wide internet.

A few things are needed for these times. Vitamins for civic life, to keep us robust.

Gratitude.

This radiant, shining planet earth and all her inhabitants call us to a deeper affection of place, more than ever, in these 9th hour, ground zero, 21st century Covid time. We will not save what we do not love (Baba Dioum, Senegalese forestry engineer, 1968). The natural world is one of the few places open to humans for solace, peace, life giving joy, in these pandemic times. Foster that love by being with earth in all her myriad forms—from backyard to park to wild places, to night sky.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

What we need is here, Selected Poems of Wendell Berry (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press, 1998)
Photo by Fahad AlAni on Pexels.com

Lament.

We need a wall of lament for those we love—all our relations who might soon be extinct due to climate change and our carefully protected fossil fuel carbonized lifestyles…

Indigenous communities

Colombian natives and activists protested against the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro over the fires in the Amazon rainforest, in front of the Brazilian consulate in Bogota, Colombia, on August 23, 2019.

Pollinators

Koala Bears

  • Ringed Seal

Action.

Extinction Rebellion, begun in the U.K. was founded on the power of civil disobedience as social transformation. “If society is going to change as drastically and urgently as we need it to, some level of painful disruption seems necessary.” (Rolling Stone, April 2020, p. 59) They use the greatest tool available to humanity for social change. Mass civil disobedience…not with angry fury, but creative collective action, involving “crowds of people planting trees, singing songs and waving colorful flags. ” (Rolling Stone, April 2020, p. 97)

Fortunately, Mother Nature has intervened. She is helping us with social disruption. We are cocooned, socially distanced, quarantined, masked, grounded from our carbon lifestyles. For those not on the front lines, most are congregated in our own little “sheltering” oases. We cannot move en masse out onto the streets. But for those hidden away in our homes and ‘hoods, we are growing our civic consciousness. As Rebecca Solnit -writes

When a caterpillar enters its chrysalis, it dissolves itself, quite literally, into liquid. In this state, what was a caterpillar and will be a butterfly is neither one nor the other, it’s a sort of living soup. Within this living soup are the imaginal cells that will catalyse its transformation into winged maturity. May the best among us, the most visionary, the most inclusive, be the imaginal cells – for now we are in the soup. The outcome of disasters is not foreordained. It’s a conflict, one that takes place while things that were frozen, solid and locked up have become open and fluid – full of both the best and worst possibilities. We are both becalmed and in a state of profound change.

“The Impossible has already happened: What the CoronaVirus Can Teach us About Hope”, by Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian, April 7, 2020

The bees also tell me about this new way of being…

In early April, I caught a swarm on a bush. Vulnerable. Their future uncertain. Their bellies gorged with the sweet elixir of honey and dreams for their new home, they set out on a journey. I put them into a hive and left them alone for a month. Every now and then I would peek inside the glass window. There all I could see was a vibrating orb of honeybees dangling there in a massive pulsing ball in the center of the hive. After a month, I opened them up. Inside was a hive, from front to back, filled with beautifully formed combs, brood and bees. It was surreal to see how quickly that had filled that box up to perfection. And now, after “sheltering in place” together for a month, they were ready to be split. Busting at the seams for change, you might say.

So, friends of bees and all, keep company, cocoon, prepare for metamorphosis, transformation.

Standing Still, Growing up

These days it seems the whole planet is on a vision quest together. Some more aware of this than others—that we cannot, will not be able to go back to the “way things are”. When things were spinning so fast, we couldn’t jump off if we wanted to. Now we’ve all debarked. Together. For those who aren’t on the front lines, our hands have been forced.

I read recently that geologists note the earth is “standing still” . There is less vibration from human activity. Perhaps Mother Earth is finally able to be quiet. How beautiful is that?

We’re sitting, waiting with the earth. Some are listening for the sound of the new world we must create. Some are spending beautiful time with their families. Some are struggling to survive, still working, still in danger. Some are twiddling their thumbs, hoping for business as usual. Some have taken to the street with guns, signs, threats, demanding that their “way of life” be returned.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

But for those who have ears to hear, a new world is starting to buzz, quietly. A world where humans are no longer the destroyers, but the healers, the co-creators, the hive mind. Working together. Creating a place where every being belongs. Everyone has enough. Every living thing is shown dignity.

Recently, while I wasn’t paying attention, our city was plunged into freezing temperatures overnight. After days and days of sunshine and warming temperatures, one night the rains came and the world plunged into a world of ice and snow on the mountain top, frost on all living things on this high desert floor.

I woke up one morning to find all my budding fruit, apricots, cherries, blackened by the cold. I grieved the loss, along with everything else I’ve lost these days—community music, employment, social gatherings, restaurants, face time in real time, hugs, the ease of going to the grocery, or meeting a friend for tea without a mask.

Oddly, I noticed up the street, my neighbor’s 50+ year old mature apricot tree which I admire every year (actually, I confess I sneak a few of those round orange globes every summer)had no frost damage. I noted the way all the fruits is clustered near the ground level, how full of leaves and mature this elder tree is. So protective and fully grown.

The apricot tree reminded me that our culture has some growing up to do. This mature, seasoned, adaptive, and resilient tree knows how to navigate a deep freeze, unexpectedly. Most creatures that live outdoors continuously do not expect a life of “easy street”. They have everything they need in their environmentally adapted genetics. I note that a few of my beehives have also weathered seasons, making them my “resilient” stock— adaptive to New Mexico’s unpredictable and harsh climate changes and yes, mites. As much as I also grieved the loss of all but 2 of my hives this past year, I am learning from the ones that survived.

Those who, with modest means, have survived intact through adversity, pandemics, weather catastrophes, Economic depressions and recessions have some wisdom for these times—both human and creaturely.

I see people offering neighborly kindnesses and support in many large and small ways to buoy each other up these days. The following poem was sent by someone who offers a free on-line yoga studio each week for anyone who tunes in. Thank you Meta. You are keeping me balanced. It was one more reminder that we are not alone in the Universal memory or story. This has happened before…for instance the pandemics of 1869 and 1918. We know what to do. Take care of one another.

This reminds us that we can reimagine this time.

By Kitty O’Meara (2020)
And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested,
and exercised, and made art, and played games,
and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant,
dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways,
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
as they had been healed.

#hivemind #collaborativewisdom #Growinguptogether#slowdown#bestill

Right On Time

It appears that nature continues on. Unabated. Oblivious, in a way, to the human drama unfolding.

Today on my solo, socially distanced walk in the neighborhood, I heard the familiar loud buzzy sound that honeybees make when swarming. My mentor TJ Carr always said that Palm Sunday was THE time for bee swarms to begin.

Looking up towards a pine tree as tall as a 12 story building, I watched a crescendo of bees whirling, swirling slowly upward. It was as though they were Elijah’s chariot come to transport him home to the heavens. A graceful and coordinated spiral, which appeared at first chaotic, they suddenly made a bee-line to the very top branch of that tree. It was though they had evaporated. As hard as I tried, I could not see where the pulsing orb of their sisters hung high in the tree tops. I would’ve needed a telescope.

Swarm of bees in flight on a nice sunny day
Honey Bees Swarming - In Flight

This swarm would not be mine.

Last week, I received a call on the road. My husband and I rarely venture out these days except on bikes or foot. Kenneth had called from the West Side of Albuquerque for a pick up. His bike had a flat tire. On the way, I received another exciting phone call. A bee swarm had landed next door to the Rio Grande Co-op market in a low bush. Would I pick them up for my friend’s beeyard? Of course. I hadn’t had this much excitement to punctuate the homogeneity of my days for quite awhile.

Picking up a swarm for a beekeeper feels like the exhilaration and anticipation of the hunt. The good news is, nothing has to give up their life. Well, that’s the hope.

On this particular day, I pulled into the parking lot of the co-op where Dunia and her 6 year old son waited with eyes glowing above their face masks. The wonder of bees and children.

The security person kept a fair distance. We waited for our friends, slated to bring their box of beekeeping tools, to safely carry the honeybee swarm to their new digs.

Bees swarming

Despite my assurance that bees are most docile in this state, gorged with honey, disoriented as they wait for the word to their new home, least likely to attack— everyone kept a safe distance.

What happened next, ripped a dull gash in our excited expectation.

A truck pulled up, screeched to a stop, and a man on oxygen in the front seat, in a state of undress, rolled down his window and began to yell that these were “his bees’. His two young daughters piled out and began to gear up. We were still waiting for our backup. He was clearly not going to get out of the truck, perhaps was not able to. Instead he threatened us from the cab.

The co-op manager came out to join the fray, stating he had called this man’s bee outfit from the East mountains, at least 45 minutes ago. He had found their website.

Just then, my friends rolled up, and began to unload their bee tools. Their eyes widened as the angry words reached a crescendo.

Finally, I calmly took the swarm box, still without any beesuit or protection, and began to gently nudge the ball of bees into the box. The cloud of anger that wrapped us so tightly that air was being squeezed out of our lungs‚—nevermind COVID 19— began to recede. The Co-op manager and my friends stepped up to help. A bee chased the child and he began to scream as his mother herded him in their car. I entered my own bubble. I was in that charmed state of absolute focus and calm and contemplation that accompanies my forays into the hive. The words flying around me became like the muted voice of the teacher in Charlie Brown. Background noise.

Before I knew it, somewhere on the periphery of my awareness, the man’s daughters had packed up. Throwing a final insult at myself, my friends and the manager, the unhappy group of bee swarm hopefuls drove off. We captured the last of the bees and happily hived them in a fruit tree paradise at my friend’s home. The next day they were dancing in the orchard and making beautiful combs.

Photo by Johann Piber on Pexels.com

I was left with the question…did I do the right thing? Should I have walked away? Given them up? Do bees really “belong” to anyone? This man thought so. Clearly he was in it for the biz. In the world of volunteer beekeepers, swarms are usually first come, first serve—unless of course there is an elegant and coordinated system of sharing, such as the Albuquerque Beekeepers (In Albuquerque, Call CABQ #311).

Meanwhile, there is an urgency of the bees in this season, as they swarm to new homes. Maybe there will be more parking lot fights over swarms. Bee keepers are intensely competitive about gathering swarms. Tempers are at a peak with the lockdown. Oh, such human folly, our need to possess the bees. Or, to possess anything.

I don’t have much else to say about this little bee tale. No wise words of wisdom or crystal clarity about “how to think like a bee”. Mostly I impart this story to let you know that it is honeybee swarm season. The bees will be right on time. They will do their thing to the best of their ability, despite plagues and firestorms and hurricanes and drought.

And if you see one dangling in your backyard from a branch, or your neighbor’s tree, please call a beekeeper who is local. The first one there deserves first dibs.

Anita Amstutz 5055144982. Yes, I do swarm calls:)

COVID 19 and Varroa

Years ago I met a man at a writing workshop who had also come under the enchanting spell of honeybees. He had begun to keep bees at a time when unbeknownst to the average beekeeper, a deadly scourge had begun to spread among the beehives.

During the winter of 2006-2007, some beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. As many as 50 percent of all affected colonies demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honey bee death:

**Sudden loss of a colony’s worker bee population with very few dead bees found near the colony.

**The queen and brood (young) remained, and the colonies had relatively abundant honey and pollen reserves.

https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder

As beekeepers would come to find out. Honeybee hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees and would eventually die. This combination of events resulting in the loss of a bee colony was called Colony Collapse Disorder.

The most immediate killer would eventually be identified as Varroa Mite, evidently imported from Asia, where bees had learned to adapt. But for the European honeybee, they were defenseless.

Though, as 40+ year bee researcher Mark Winston has said, it’s not just one thing that is killing the bees, it’s “a thousand little cuts”, including habitat pollution and destruction, chemicals and our industrialized agricultural system which assaults bees regularly with glyphosate/herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, GMO’s, and practices that destroy any natural habitat in lieu of big subsidized mono-crops such as corn, soy, barley, wheat, etc.

This man told me his story with tears in his eyes. Where he lived, in Ohio, state governments grappled with too little information and an increasing epidemic of hives infected with varroa mites(which literally attach to a baby bee in the nest and suck the juices out of them over their lifespan, causing parasitic wing deformation and other diseases). Without knowing what was infecting honeybees or how it could impact the bee industry, they finally advised all beekeepers to set their hives on fire to stop the spread.

The man told me of his young son who eagerly asked to go with his dad that day to visit the hives. When the father told him to stay home and why, the child bravely said he “wanted to be with the bees”, even in their hour of death. They wept together as the father sealed the hives and poured gasoline on the hives and set them on fire.

Today, I can hardly bear to write this story. It makes my heart ache and my stomach churn.

As beekeepers, we know the rest of the story…

We no longer destroy our hives. We have learned to live with the decimation of our hives, the 40-55% losses each winter. We have learned to get back up each Spring and try again with what we have left. Honeybees continue to fly and swarm and pollinate—though there are way fewer.

The race is on. Can honeybees evolve and even adapt to mitigate all the disastrous things they face from human practices, lowered immune systems and the dreaded varroa mites? Can bee research make genetic advances that will assist?

Varroa is no different than COVID 19 virus. It is the to the bee family what the Bubonic plague, SARS or MERS or any epidemic virus has been to humanity. The global family, like the honeybees of the 20th century, is rendered defenseless against such potent viruses. They come as silent killers, invisible initially to the eye, but it can take apart the whole Hive. Viruses, like varroa, are clever and adaptable and mutational.

In this COVID 19 pandemic, like the Varroa mite, when human governments don’t know what we’re dealing with, the worst possible measures or lack of measures, are first applied.

black flat screen tv showing 20 00

What, I wonder, is the wisdom of the hive, the ability to Think Like A Bee, in our own hour of a deadly scourge for the global human family? As we will increasingly face what bees and other creatures have already faced due to the absolute degradation of our environment, what can we learn?

I have more questions than answers these days…but I have observed a few things from my years of being mentored by the bees.

We are all interconnected. For many years now, beekeepers have been saying, “Bees are the canaries in the mine”. Actually all living beings have been mirroring back to us signs and signals of what is coming…what is visited on one planetary community member will eventually affect us all. We are not immune from each other’s ills. In a sense, the future is here. All the assaults and insults we have visited upon our planetary immune system have ravaged not only her, but the immune response of all creatures and beings that depend upon her. Climate change and pathogen spillover is real, according to Dr. Michelle Barry of Stanford Global Health Center. Climate change, deforestation and changing ecology is happening. Animal and human ecology is colliding as humans invade and dismantle ecological communities.

Hive mind is the only way through this. We can no longer act as isolated entities. Actually, we must work as inter-species, humans and the natural world, acting together to solve the ills assailing us. I have tried to assist my bees to strengthen their immune system as a hive, I have tried to mitigate the varroa and other terrifying assaults on bees by keeping them in places where farming practices are organic and life affirming. Where all life is honored. Not just humans. How can we as humans listen to our natural systems for wisdom — how they are organized, their resilience and adaptation? How can we listen to other human communities besides our own tribal affiliations as we seek answers together?

Collaboration. Whether viruses or varroa, we have the information together to help and heal the whole. Think Funghi and bacteria. The plant and living organism world has answers for us, and we as humans can offer safe harbor for all living beings from our backyards to our agricultural, forests and wilderness areas. We can act with deep respect and reverence in relationship with the rich biotic community that we humans live within. We are only one building block of the whole network. We all depend upon the web of life.

Gratitude. In a time of COVID 19, everything we receive is abundance. Sharing and not hoarding is critical. I am humbly aware that the gifts of the hive are ostensibly free of charge. Honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, even stings to boost my immune system. Yet, without gratitude, I will exploit, take for granted, take more than my share and not understand that these gifts are not free, ultimately. They require bee size back-breaking work and commitment from the hive to be sustainable for the whole community.

Social Distancing in the hive is not possible with honeybees. They literally live on top of one another and swap spit regularly. But we have learned that too many bees crammed into beeyards with poor conditions, lead to sharing of parasitic mite disease, mites and all kinds of other diseases. Spacing out hives allows them room to be healthy and safe, to thrive. It is a paradigm shift for how we care for our human communities—that we all become “haves” of good housing, healthcare, community resources, clean air, water and food.

The good news is, I still get to visit my bees, and actually all of nature is open to visitors in this time of social quarantining, or “cloistering” as my pastor calls it. It’s a good time to think together about this “new normal”. It is a time of paying attention and being more deeply present to our interior lives and our families, our neighbors. It is a time to put into place new practices as a human family. One that honors all living communities.

First Day of Spring

Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”                                                                                              – E. O. Wilson

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Welcome Spring!

It is the season of crocuses, bee swarms, longer days and the return of the migrating birds.

Even as we are quarantined and more and more isolated from our daily human connections and habits, earth still awaits us. There is solace in green spaces and with the wild ones.

I visited my bee hives this past week. I determined that 5 of 7 were indeed gone. I harvested the honey and cleaned the hives and celebrated the bursting bees in the south valley. They are my hope.

So, even as all of our worlds have shrunk, driving us to become relentlessly local, I’m also finding it has expanded with new ideas and creative imaginings for how to live in these times. With colleagues, friends and family, I am finding hope as we birth new strategies for this Great Turning…a shift from an Industrial Growth Society to a life-sustaining civilization.

I want to close with the words from Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).

A doctor of the church, she wrote about something called Veriditas or “greening power“. Also known as Saint Hildegard and the Sibyl of the Rhine, she was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mysticvisionary, and polymath.[1][2] She is one of the best-known composers of sacred monophony, as well as the most-recorded in modern history.[3] She has been considered by many in Europe to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.[4] (Wikipedia) 

Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly. 

The earth is at the same time mother, She is mother of all that is natural

Mother of all that is human.

She is the mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.

Glance at the sun, see the moon and the stars.Gaze at the beauty of Earth’s greenings.

Now think, what delight God gives to humankind with all these things

All nature is at the disposal of humankind

we are to work with her

For without her we cannot survive.

Bee well and keep your eyes and heart open to the miracles of “greening power”.

Springtime bee friendly tips

Reducing Pesticide Use & Impacts

Thank you Bee City USA/Xerces Society, for this invaluable and timely article.

A small lady beetle climbs amidst flower stems, with a blurred yellow blossom in the background.

(Photo: Xerces Society / Jennifer Hopwood)

The vast majority of invertebrates serve vitally important roles in a healthy environment, including controlling pests, pollinating flowering plants, and providing food for other wildlife. Only a very small number of invertebrates are pests. Yet, the pesticides designed to control unwanted plants and animals rarely distinguish between beneficial invertebrates and those which cause harm. All too often pesticides cause unintended consequences and disrupt the natural systems that sustain us. But, because pesticides are valued for their toxicity to pests, the risks they pose are often accepted⁠—even when healthier, more sustainable options are available.

As part of the Xerces Society’s conservation efforts we strive to reduce reliance on pesticides by supporting the diverse systems that reduce pest problems. Xerces’ staff is sought after to translate complex science so that farmers, backyard gardeners, agency staff, and policy makers can make informed decisions about pesticide use and regulation. And by providing on-the-ground technical support we are increasing the adoption of ecologically sound pest management practices everywhere.
 

Introduction to Pesticides & Alternatives

Understanding Pesticides & Their Risks

Ecological Pest Management

Reducing Pesticide Impacts in Your Landscape

Balance pest management with protecting pollinators, beneficial insects, and other important invertebrates and their habitat.

Working Lands

Working Lands

Yards & Gardens

Yards & Gardens

Roadsides & Rights-of-Way

Roadsides & Rights-Of-Way

Cities & Towns

Cities & Towns

Natural Lands

Natural Lands

Waters

Waters

A little New Year Bee love

Think Like a Bee, a bee education and advocacy non-profit (501(c)3 based in Albuquerque, will host a fun(d) raiser at the Flying Star restaurant on Rio Grande, in Albuquerque, NM this Thursday, 4-8pm!

Come on down with your family and enjoy a meal and a little Bee Love! 10% of all proceeds will come to support the work we are doing.

There will be a Raffle, face painting, ways to help bees and fun stuff for families!

Here’s the invite…pass it on!

Here’s some of the good stuff we’ve been up to…


2015-2017 we secured grants to offer youth summer organic farming interns and mentoring on growing good food and the importance of pollinators.


In 2016 we successfully petitioned the City of Albuquerque and unanimously passed a pollinator protection resolution, Burque Bee City, working with CABQ,  neighborhoods, schools and the public on best ways to support healthy pollinators

2018-2019 we worked with UNM Taos Digital Media Arts program and students to create a Rio Grande Documentary with local farmers and Indigenous leaders, on best practices to conserve pollinator habitat for a healthy food future


Today we are taking our documentary on the road! We continuing to educate and advocate about habitat conservation and best bee practices, ways everyone can help keep our air, water, soil and food healthy for all pollinators and seven generations.

Love Life in all its Myriad Forms

Sandia Crest, New Mexico, January 2, 2020

When you fall in love with being alive,
life loves you back. What doesn’t love
to be loved? What doesn’t feel humbled
and ecstatic with the luck of not being left
unrequited? Love the sun and it lets you see
its green and growing edge moving through
the darkest human history like a forest moves
renewed across an ashen void. Falling in love
smooths flaws, sees genius in oddity, morphs
blemishes and bulges into sweet slopes and curves,
restores trust and withers grudges with just
the fascination, the single focus of adoring curiosity. And life itself
always knows it, and gives you back all it’s got.

V. B. Price, Christmas Poem 2019 Mercury Messenger

We face a new year and a new decade. 2020 is apt. We need new vision—clear sight and updated eyeglasses for times such as this. As we head into 2020, I wish you a love affair with all the non-human, created world. Learn about earth’s mind blowing mysteries. Revel in creaturely wisdom. Behold beauty in everything. Teach your children and beloveds.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”

(Baba Dioum, Senegalese Forestry Engineer, 1968.)
Image result for images bee on rose

I’ve found that poetry and image are the forms that can cut quickly to the chase— what is most essential. Here is Life in all its Myriad Forms in the carefully distilled words of the poets heart…and the eyes of the photographer.

What is this dark hum among the roses?

        The bees have gone simple, sipping,

that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?

        They’re small creatures and they are

filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not

        moan in happiness? The little

worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.

        Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand

that life is a blessing. I have found them-haven’t you?

        stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings

a little tattered—so much flying about, to the hive,

        then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing,

should the task be to be a scout –sweet, dancing bee.

        I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t

admire. If there is, I don’t know what it is. I

        haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to. The bee is small,

and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and

        read books, I have to

take them off and bend close to study and

        understand what is happening. It’s not hard, it’s in fact

as instructive as anything I have ever studied. Plus, too,

        it’s love almost too fierce to endure, the bee

nuzzling like that into the blouse

        of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course

the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over

        all of us.

Hum, by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,

but with stars in their black feathers,

they spring from the telephone wire

and instantly

they are acrobats

in the freezing wind.

And now, in the theater of air,

they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;

they float like one stippled star

that opens,

becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;

and you watch

and you try

but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it

with no articulated instruction, no pause,

only the silent confirmation

that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin

over and over again,

full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,

even in the ashy city.

I am thinking now

of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots

trying to leave the ground,

I feel my heart

pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.

I want to be light and frolicsome.

I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,

as though I had wings.

Starlings in Winter – Mary Oliver (from: Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays)
Image result for images starlings
a murmuration of starlings

I look out into my front yard and see dead bees mounting up on the ground around one hive. I fear they haven’t survived the frigid 20 degree temps. I see the Roadrunner as a shadow in the distance, patiently waiting for me to exit so he can swoop in for a feast of bee protein.

If my bees have survived, the queen is already laying eggs deep in the dark, dank hive —preparing a new brood of baby female worker bees who emerge when the temps release their iron grip and the spring flowers beckon.

Here’s to a new year, filled with the peace of wild things, and the ability to see with new sight, to carry out our work in community, dismantling the old and creating anew.

Nada Retreat Center, Crestone, CO