Late afternoon on Sunday, a day that began with a hike to several waterfalls in a forest nearby where we live in the Columbia Gorge, I got a text about a swarm of bees nearby. They were congregating at the Moose Lodge in Camas.
Sunday afternoons are lazy, dinner over early, and lots of outdoor time if weather permits, but also reading, writing, relaxing. Having already been on a 45-minute hike that turned into a two-hour slosh through mud, but an adventure nonetheless, we were well spent. But the weather was lovely, so once we had brunch and revived we pulled blackberry vines and stinging nettle from the bank in our backyard forest. And now it was evening, time to relax.
The hub did not want to add a bee venture to the end of this day, so I said the thing that will usually rouse him. “I’ll go by myself then.”
I’m not sure if he thinks some mishap might befall me or if he now feels guilty for not animating himself more, but we are off. We capture the swarm on the curb of a busy intersection, less busy during this sequester.
So what do bees have to do with writing? Both begin with the call, and response- do we go or don’t we? Do we write or don’t we?
The beehives were already prepared after the last bees left during the cold winter. Our hive is in a dugout tree trunk, so I don’t think they were cold, but no one knows for sure what is going on with the bees these days. We left enough honey and comb inside to lure or start off a new hive. We were ready.
Preparing ahead of time is the surest way for me to get back to my writing. I try to leave my desk and writing space with some semblance of order and a note about where I left off, what might come next. I make an ongoing list of interesting assignments for myself, drawing on my days as a college writing instructor.
When we got most of the bees into our crate, it was time to wait. Many of the bees were still buzzing around, possibly confused. It takes them awhile to settle. The hub wanted to close up the crate and head home. Note to self- throw in a chair, a book, and a beer for him next time. I got him to wait a few minutes. I picked up bees one at a time and dropped them into the crate. Little by little we moved from the curb to the truck. Wait some more. The goal- no bee left behind. But there are always going to be some stragglers.
When I write I find myself sitting with my characters, listening, waiting for them to speak, then writing down their words, which always seem a bit surprising to me, not at all what I expected them to say. That is what I wait for.
Back at home, the bees are happily re-hived, all before sundown.
We gather inspiration where we can. Bees could be a distraction from the work at hand, but I can hardly express to you how happy I am to know my tree hive lives again, abuzz with bees who will forage in the yard as soon as the rain stops. And I will sit on the deck and listen to them, watch them, and write them into my work. For now they are safe inside the hollowed-out tree hive and I’m free to write. And make tea with very lovely local honey left by the last bees.
Throw some honey and/or bees into your writing today. And make tea.
Happy writing Monday