As a gardener, I’m also a bug-watcher. When I’ve finished an hour of weeding or gathering pine cones like Easter eggs, sitting on a mossy patch in my treelined backyard makes me feel five years old again as I study the insects trafficking around me. (Eventually I remember deer like to wander across the property, so the adult I am imagines a thriving population of deer ticks and takes a long shower. If anyone can teach the deer to eat the weeds instead of my azaleas, give me a call.)
I’m at war with the aphids attacking my new tea rose, a yellow-pink hybrid called Love and Peace, but I reached a truce with any spiders and ants living outdoors. The bees that scared me as a kid seem friendly now.
I enjoyed a book and a meal this week outside an Atlanta tea room, the door to its screened porch propped open. A few bugs entered and exited through a small hole while one oversized bee kept hurling himself at the mesh walls, the open door forgotten. I tried coaxing him onto my book cover to take him to safety; the server attempted a shoo-fly maneuver with a napkin. No luck. She returned to the kitchen while I returned to my reading.
Einstein told us we can’t solve a problem with the same sort of thinking that created it, and, as the bee perched near my table, I considered how often we narrow our options, believing we can’t go back the way we came or spotting danger in efforts which could set us free. Being trapped was the bee’s problem, and freeing him was my riddle as I sipped a fragrant green jasmine tea before asking the server for a paper menu. I used my empty porcelain teacup to cover the insect as I gently slipped the menu between him and the screen and carried him out into the garden.
If bees tell stories, I wonder how he’d explain that experience. Was it an adventure with an exciting ending or just a strange trauma? Life is full of joys and sorrows, the contrast framing our happiest moments with context and sharper definition. Sometimes we risk getting squashed – but blessings can be so expertly disguised.