Last year, a hummingbird unexpectedly built a nest outside my window, while I was in the midst of completing a major kitchen update. To my delight, it happened again this year, though instead of our meyer lemon tree, the tiny bird built her nest in our orange tree.
Although I noticed the hummingbird flitting about the orange blossoms for a few weeks, I missed the nest until the eggs had already hatched and the two blind hummingbird chicks were squished together inside. It was right about the time I noticed our blueberry bushes had blooms and the pumpkin I sat outside after Halloween had finally started to break down and return to earth. Everything was fertile, fecund, earthy. I love it when nature comes forth and provides so many learning opportunities—even on the patio of a 1000 sq. ft. condo.
While she was nesting, the humming bird momma helped to fertilize the blossoms on our orange tree. We now have a couple dozen baby oranges growing, where in the past the most the tree has managed to produce is three. And last week the first shoots from the germinating pumpkin seeds peeked up from the ground and some our green berries ripened and turned navy blue. I’ve never felt spring this deeply. It’s hard to, when you live in the land of perpetual summer.
On the day I awakened with vertigo, there was a swarm of bees coming from our neighbor’s chimney. Since we live in a condo village, that neighbor is about twenty steps away, we are separated by nothing more than a walkway and a patch of grass. After watching City of Bees with Lyra and reading about colon collapse disorder over the past couple of years, I have had a deep affection for bees.
Did you know honey has no expiration date?
And that the queen bee mates only one time in a multi-drone sex fest shortly after she’s born?
And then spends the remaining seven years of her life doing nothing more than laying fertilized eggs?
So, while I considered the presence of an entire hive hanging out on a tree branch just a few feet from my door to be a bit threatening, I wanted to let nature take its course. You see when a new queen is created, the old queen takes a bunch of her worker bees, they fill themselves with honey, and they gather on a tree or bush. The worker bees seek out new locations for the hive and come back and report to the others by doing a waggle dance. Through some process of consensus that no one understands, the collective takes off within a couple days to build their new home.
Isn’t that just fascinating?!
So, if left to their own plan—the one by which bees have lived for millions of years—the bees would have been gone in a couple of days. But,the nest morning when we came out, we fund the entire colony lying in a heap on the ground. Killed off by someone, most likely poisoned. The exoskeletons of the queen and all her daughters would be returning to earth. Their work permanently halted.
I was saddened, but not surprised…
A week later, on my first trip out of the house since the vertigo struck, I hear a familiar droning buzz coming from over head. I looked up to see my immediate sky darkened wit the swirling flight of hundreds of bees. They were swarming to a top nearby ponderosa pine. Their origins were unclear, they seemed to be coming from everywhere. I smiled at the resilience of these little creatures. Go bees! Go!
Again, two days later, I noticed a small colony of bees clustered on a bush next to my garage door. I was tickled that for third time in just a few weeks I was given a chance to witness this great transition—the transition, the rise of a new queen, the continuing cycle of pollination and fertility. I ran back inside to grab my point and shoot camera to make sure I captured these bees in more than just my memory.
Recently, the late spring headed into summer has not been my happy time of year. It has been a hard time. A sad time. A time when I remember being in the last months of pregnancy and feeling the most centered, healthy, and optimistic I had ever been.
For the past two years I have had a hard time reconciling how great I felt with how violently things turned out for me. I have had a hard time imagining how a life where the inability to reproduce the circumstances that created those feelings—the inability to feel all those jabs and kicks, the deep intimacy with my husband, the total belief I had in my body to do what I asked of it—could be a happy life.
People—strangers mostly, but sometimes friends, who forget—ask me all the time if I want another child. I used to shy away from it. Lately, I tackle it straight on. Yes, I want one. But I cannot have any more. They often react to this with shame, embarrassed to have asked such a presumptive question. I used to want to protect them from that shame. I don’t any more.
This is my life.
It has a future.
It is in hummingbirds returning to build their nests in the trees I water. It is in blueberries bursting forth from the bellies of flowers. It is in pumpkins deciding sprout from a pile decomposing orange flesh. It is a colony of bees that keeps looking for a home, no matter the obstacles.
It is in my daughter’s face, who helps me see all of this anew for the first time. Every amazing flower. Every slimy snail. Even in an abandoned book depository, nature will find a way. I’m still finding mine. But I’m better today, than I was a year, ago.