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.