Poetry Sunday: So This Is Nebraska

So This is Nebraska

BY TED KOOSER

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Morning sunlight glistens on the scaffolding

We Are Awesome at Removing and Relocating Honeybees

It’s not often, Reader, that I write about our bee-removal jobs. Why, you ask? Because the bee removals involve homeowners, and I’m not very comfortable writing about people who never intended to end up on a public blog.

But I spend a good deal of time in the company of some cool people as we remove honeybees and beehives from structures, and I am never ever ever bored by it. Often I am unnerved, but I’m never bored. Anyway, in the event you’d forgotten what I do with much of my time, I’m sharing a few photos of yesterday’s job with you.

Yesterday’s job was cool—not because of the size of the hive but because of the height of the nest.

Kudos to Jerry Hof and Co Inc (Jerry performs the contracting on all these bee removals with me) for constructing such a high and stable scaffold, for exposing the nest, and then for repairing the structure, and to Nicola Mason (a brilliant artist, writer, editor, beekeeper and all-around adventurous woman) for scampering effortlessly up and down and up and down and up and down the 40 ft. scaffolding all morning and for removing all the comb from the hive.

Reader, if you’ve discovered honeybees in your house or in some other structure, if you live in the Greater Cincinnati area, and if you want a team that’s not only great at this stuff but also delights in the work and is fun to spend time with, contact me. Not only can we safely remove the live bees and comb and honey and relocate them to one of our beeyards, but we can put your place back together so no one will ever know we were there.

Morning sunlight glistens on the scaffolding

 

Don't look down

 

Three bees flying home
Beautiful comb containing pollen, brood, larvae, and bees

 

Liz, Nicola, and Jerry at work removing honeybees
The truck and the sunflowers

The White-Glove Kind of Garden-Club Women

Yesterday I learned that not all the women in the garden club are actually gardeners. And I learned that perhaps not everyone in the world will love Eli’s BBQ and the wildish community gardens behind it.

You see, I’ve lately been invited to give a few talks about bees. It’s inevitable that this should happen. And, as you know, Reader, I am trying my darndest to answer “yes” to the universe—which means that I’ve now accepted the invitations to speak.

To scout a suitable venue for an upcoming garden-club talk, I invited some of my garden-club friends to join me at Eli’s and then to see the bees at the community gardens. We were sort of testing it out for a larger crowd. And I had a very nice afternoon sharing a meal and some sunshine and a walk around the block with a few wonderful people with whom I’ve not previously shared much time.

But then I learned that some of the women in the club may not thoroughly enjoy the combination of Eli’s and the community gardens…which are sort of rough. You know, Eastern Avenue (now renamed Riverside Drive…as if that’s gonna stick. Not.) is a tad rough around the edges. Apparently some of these garden club memebers like to stay clean and above. You know what I mean when I say “above,” don’t you, Reader? Let’s just say that this is not a neighborhood with which they are familiar.

This blew my socks off. Seriously. I simply assumed the women with whom I’d be lunching and speaking and to whom I would be showing the bees would be adventurous and embracing. I thought they were the dig-in-the-garden type of garden-club women. Apparently they really really need to meet me. :)

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I'm not sure the garden-club women will love my truck
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My kind of garden-club women!
An Eagle Scout project in the making

Reintroducing Honeybees to California Woods Nature Preserve

Once you start a good thing in motion, it sort of takes off, doesn’t it? I’m thinking of Justin Dunham’s drive for Eagle Scout and his project to reintroduce honeybees to the California Woods Nature Preserve.

To my mind, Justin has shown a great deal of maturity as he’s corralled the resources and coordinated the various entities involved. You know, Reader, it’s not easy to work the red tape…particularly red tape involving state or county or city or other government systems. And especially particularly when coordinating government and private businesses…which is exactly what Justin’s doing in this Eagle Scout project.

Yesterday, Justin coordinated and chaired a meeting of Gia Giammarino, Manager of California Woods Nature Preserve (one of Cincinnati’s City Parks), Justin Dunham (future Eagle Scout and all-around successful person), Justin’s dad (the future beekeeper Jeff Dunham), and me (Queen Bee at TwoHoneys Bee Co). We all sat together at a picnic table in the shade of California Woods and planned the honeybee reintroduction. There’s a lot to consider…I won’t list all of the details of our discussions here…I’ll let Justin’s work simply unfold. But let me say that he’s getting it done. He’s keeping us on track.

Let me also simply say that soon Justin and his scout buddies will be clearing some trails and an overgrown bee yard. He will be making some room…you know these things don’t simply happen. Preparation is involved. And there are literal thorns to battle. And probably poison ivy. There are definitely mosquitos.

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Gia Giammarino and Justin Dunham discuss honeybees
Let it go

Miracles and Sky Lanterns

You know, Reader, I’m in beehives almost every day, but I forget to tell you about it. I forget to take pictures (which is not easy to do when my hands are covered in honey and bees and my phone/camera is in my back pocket and I’m alone). So I miss sharing delightful discoveries with you.

I also realize that all those pictures of bees and honeycomb and queens sort of run together…if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

So I might just start writing whatever is on my mind here:

  1. I’m in conversation with someone about placing bees in a very cool location. We have a few hurdles to face, but we have desire. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I would tell you more, but I’ve learned not to articulate my vision too concretely in public until the deal is sealed. It’s not that I don’t trust you, Reader…I think this strategy was ingrained into me as a child. Don’t say it until it’s done. It’s a hard thing for me to do.
  2. I heard last night that miracles occur naturally and frequently…in other words, miracles aren’t meant to be phenomenons. When they don’t occur, it’s probably because we won’t get out of the way and let them.
  3. Sky Lanterns
Let it go

 

Sky Lanterns Aloft
Sky Lanterns swinging in the night

Poetry Sunday: The Girl with Bees in Her Hair

The Girl with Bees in Her Hair

BY ELEANOR WILNER

came in an envelope with no return address;
she was small, wore wrinkled dress of figured
cotton, full from neck to ankles, with a button
of bone at the throat, a collar of torn lace.
She was standing before a monumental house—
on the scale you see in certain English films:
urns, curved drives, stone lions, and an entrance far
too vast for any home. She was not of that place,
for she had a foreign look, and tangled black hair,
and an ikon, heavy and strange, dangling from
an oversized chain around her neck, that looked
as if some tall adult had taken it from his,
and hung it there as a charm to keep her safe
from a world of infinite harm that soon
would take him far from her, and leave her
standing, as she stood now—barefoot, gazing
without expression into distance, away
from the grandeur of that house, its gravel
walk and sculpted gardens. She carried a basket
full of flames, but whether fire or flowers
with crimson petals shading toward a central gold,
was hard to say—though certainly, it burned,
and the light within it had nowhere else
to go, and so fed on itself, intensified its red
and burning glow, the only color in the scene.
The rest was done in grays, light and shadow
as they played along her dress, across her face,
and through her midnight hair, lively with bees.
At first they seemed just errant bits of shade,
until the humming grew too loud to be denied
as the bees flew in and out, as if choreographed
in a country dance between the fields of sun
and the black tangle of her hair.
Without warning
a window on one of the upper floors flew open—
wind had caught the casement, a silken length
of curtain filled like a billowing sail—the bees
began to stream out from her hair, straight
to the single opening in the high fa├žade. Inside,
a moment later—the sound of screams.

The girl—who had through all of this seemed
unconcerned and blank—all at once looked up.
She shook her head, her mane of hair freed
of its burden of bees, and walked away,
out of the picture frame, far beyond
the confines of the envelope that brought her
image here—here, where the days grow longer
now, the air begins to warm, dread grows to
fear among us, and the bees swarm.

Poetry Sunday: If You Knew

If You Knew

BY ELLEN BASS

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked a half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?