Hi Amelia! This post isn't about Queen Bey, although we might be overdue for a post about her, too. It has been so long since I've posted on G&G, I almost forgot my way around, which is sad. But I have been thinking about this space and all our chats about motherhood, creating, and staying sane lately, and I want to tell you about the bees in our backyard.
This post will be complete with photos that make it very clear why I use Tim's photos on Sut Nam Bonsai. But he's at work, so I am all we've got (oh dear), and there's no one here to tell me I can't include a photo of a squirrel.
As you know, in April I added to the world's baby arsenal by having a plump little girl. Yesterday, I put out my daughter's cloth diapers to dry in the early sun then went about my morning. Around 10am, I went to check on their position, to make sure the trees weren't interfering with the sunlight, but I didn't get the back door open more than a crack before I slammed it shut, terrified by the sound I heard. The yard buzzed with the work of hundreds of bees, and I since I am quasi-allergic (hospitalized when a child, though my throat never swelled) I was not going anywhere near that stuff.
The bees have been in our yard for a few days now but, Doubting Thomas that I am, I didn't worry about it when our neighbor mentioned them. Now that I have seen them myself, however, I am obsessed.
Not wanting to chance one stinging Samantha or, even worse perhaps, one stinging me and leaving my poor daughter without a conscious mom for some time, I sprung into action and called a beekeeper to collect them.
The collection of bees is not the point of this post, however, and they have moved to a neighbor's property where I can't control what happens to them anyway. But have you ever seen a swarm of bees on a tree? Holy cow. It is a fascinating, buzzing, creepy crawly thing. I get chills looking at it. In fact, I took the above photos an hour ago and those two clumps are no more. The clump on the left has now glommed on to the one on the right. That something with so many pieces can take the physical form of a sphere, but then shift itself into different cylindrical variations, like a murmuration of starlings in the sky, well that just about blows my mind and makes me think of every quantum physics diagram I've ever seen.
In a detail that renews my faith in the fly-over states of our country again and again, Tim's family raised bees when he was growing up, so I pumped him full of questions before bed last night, including why the heck bees behave this way. Why are they all attached and hugging onto each other? I asked. He said they are all there, protecting the queen.
As a new mother, someone who spends her days mostly topless, feeding the babe in her arms, the beauty of this matriarchy is not lost on me. That's how I want it to be in this house, I thought, i.e. I Am The Queen. Hahaha! But really. My next thought was, how radiantly beautiful. No wonder bees are so tied to the fertility of the world. No wonder a flower can only become its fullest self by the work of a culture that protects its feminine reign.
I have much to say about motherhood that will have to wait for a different post, but I will say how PHYSICAL the work is! First there are all the physical facts of pregnancy (miraculously expanding uterus, milk-ducts gearing up, etc., etc.) and then it all comes together in motherhood: nursing all the time, holding, cradling, rocking, strolling. It is an incredibly physical thing, motherhood, something I did not understand at all as I watched it from my mind before. It makes me realize how much the movie Eraserhead, which was David Lynch's first movie and supposedly a student film of his, gets it wrong.
That didn't happen, I realize, so maybe that's a silly thing to ponder. But I just think, yes, what a concept! Except, in real life, that woman and that baby would be so inseparable it would be hard to see the baby for the mother's body covering it, sheltering it, protecting it like a queen.
After all that bee talk last night, I of course dreamed of black bees swarming my ankles like small bullets, and my childhood friend with whom I played on summer days. I also had to take off the necklace I was wearing because I jumped sky high every few minutes, feeling something trace my neck. I love when a topic so possesses my mind, but isn't it interesting how linked pleasure and horror can be sometimes?
I hope you and Teddy are having a wonderful, miraculously alive day!
Oh, how do I love this post? Let me count the ways!
1. I seem to have an affinity for bees as metaphor.
2. I think I could go on for days ranting about how our modern-day culture seems to have a knack for telling us women that "we can have it all" but then seemingly does little to support this (grand) notion. (I just spent ten minutes trying to find something I read, I believe in Harper's, about how back in the 70s, either congress or the senate was faced with a bill to enact a national daycare system--perhaps something akin to France's “crèche”--but was shot down by a male politician (can't remember his name!) on the grounds that it would lead to a deterioration of the family unit or something like that.*)
*I am going to work really hard to find exactly what it was I read because I realize my lack of specificity is hurting my argument, but ironically, Teddy has been stirring from his nap for the past five minutes, and so I felt like I had to give up my search or else I would have basically accomplished nothing during his nap. Presently, he's actually propped up sitting in front of me, staring at the computer screen (not great for him, but oh well!), held up in between my biceps as I type this, which is funny because without even trying to, I'm now addressing your observation about how physical motherhood is. (In case it's not clear, this is NOT a fun position to type in.)
OK, an hour later, and I found some evidence of what I was talking about! Turns out, the bill was passed and then vetoed by Nixon, who, indeed cited, that it would have "family-weakening implications," to which I would say: "Want to talk about family-weakening implications? OK, let's talk about the current maternity and paternity leave situations, or rather, the lack thereof, here in the U.S.? (If you want to be depressed, go ahead and spend some time here reading about how other countries support their young families as compared to us.)
3. Back to the physicality of motherhood: I would say that this stage of mom-dom, what with all of the breast feeding and car seat carrying, has been much harder on my body than pregnancy was. In fact, the other day I said to Matt, "Putting that car seat in and out of the car is the bane of my existence."
But I don't want to end on such a negative note. After all, I spend much of my day singsonging, "I love my baby!" So, I will (kind of abruptly) leave you with this photo from a month ago.
All our love!
Amelia and Teddy