Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

When A Date Goes Horribly Wrong

In recognition of Valentine’s Day, I offer you two options of advice regarding love and bees: either introduce your honey to the bees, or don’t.  The bond between bee and keeper is strong, and there is no finer discriminator of “the one” than Apis Mellifera:

“An apocryphal ‘telling the bees’ tale appeared in the November 1938 edition of the magazine Atlantic Monthly concerning the wedding of a young lass in the Lake District to a stranger to those parts.  Although the bride’s family had accepted their new son-in-law as an honourable man, the bees judged his character differently, and when he was taken to be introduced to the bees in accordance with the requirements of the ritual, they stung him to death.  It appears that bees had just cause to doubt the bridegroom’s veracity according to the evidence revealed during the investigation into his demise.  It transpired that the bridegroom was a bigamist, who had changed his name to avoid identification and was seeking a new young bride with a dowry.” *

I usually employ bees for determining a potential, viable mate.  I ask them to open a hive with me.  Not to see if they get stung to death by the bees, but to see if they are willing to be brave and curious, allured into the unknown through an act of daring.  If they refuse after I “guarantee” they won’t get stung, then I know they are not the person I am seeking.  The only exception would be the kind of allergic reaction that finds me giving an emergency tracheotomy in the field, but even then, I’m sure it would become a deal-breaker in the end.

But I have had experiences with bees and loves which in hindsight were telling of the direction of a relationship.  Several years ago I asked my girlfriend on a date to help me harvest some honey on a very hot, dry August day.  I had never heard a beehive roar before that day, but they were not happy with me or her.  By the end of the experience, we were both doing the bee-dance across the field.  I received seventeen stings, mostly to my left arm, and she received eleven.  It was one of those obstacles in a relationship that take a lot of time to reconcile if you ever do, and although she has become a dear friend and we can laugh about it now, the bees were telling us something that day.

Don’t worry; it’s not all stings and fleeing when we ask the bees.  May you find yourself sitting in reverie of your sweetie, with bees alighting nearby.  Indeed, there is no finer sign than that.

*In Pursuit of Liquid Gold; Ogden, R B; Penwell Limited; Callington, Cornwall; 2001

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Mr. and Mrs. Colfax were my first two teachers.  She ran a nursery school out of their old farm house in what had become suburban Pompton Lakes, NJ.  When I first arrived there, I looked around the large room of tables and kids, fumbled through the alphabet song, and proceeded to cry.  I cried and cried and cried, until Mrs. Colfax took me by the hand and walked me through the swinging door back into her home.  Mr. Colfax was smoking his pipe and reading the paper at the kitchen table.

“So, you’re not ready to go to school yet?”  I shook my head and then cried a whole lot more.

For the next three days of school, I was taken back to their kitchen and sat with Mr. Colfax while he smoked and read, and every once in a while when my sobbing subsided, he would ask, “Are you ready to join the other kids now?”  To which I shook my head and cried a whole lot more.

But on the third day, just after snack time, he asked me if I was ready, and as the tears didn’t well up inside of me, I nodded.  He took my hand and walked me out into the world.

On one field trip, we went and visited a local beekeeper.  It was an airy, light-overcast day in early spring that promised of warmer days.  He assuaged all our fears, opened up a hive, and invited us closer to look inside, pulling out the frames and showing us honey, brood and pollen.  All of our bare little faces were relaxed and wide-eyed, enchanted by beauty and mystery.

I always give thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Colfax for the supremely human way they let me transition to a larger world, and I don’t think it’s ironic they introduced me to bees as well.

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