i’ve started in on the beekeeper’s quilt. it’s a completely ideal project for the moment: easy and brainless, portable, and it offers a surging feeling of completion about every half an hour when i’m stitching up a little puff, clipping off the loose ends, and tossing it into a bowl. completion is a feeling i’m glad for these days. loose ends tied seem hard to come by.
my dad used to keep bees out in the garden, in twin hives just behind the rhubarb patch. i remember his white beekeeping suit, the screen pulled over his handsome face. i’d watch from the window as he walked slowly out across the yard in morningtimes, graceful, steam rising from the smoker in his hands, fog rising from the creek to the east. i remember, once in a great while, a precious, glistening slab of honeycomb waiting at the kitchen table when i sat down to breakfast. i remember quiet voices speaking lessons of restraint and gratitude.
i’ve been stung by both hornets and wasps, but not once by a bee.
bees swarm in groups numbering between 1,500 and 30,000. swarming bees are gentle creatures, and the process of swarming is about transitions and growth. in the last seven days i’ve made what seems like 1,500 to 30,000 telephone calls to doctors, social workers, nursing homes, attorneys. i ask question after question. i can talk on the phone and knit at the same time. i can hear answers i don’t want to hear without crying, and that’s no small victory. i accept answers that aren’t even really answers. i count stitches like it’s my job, click click click. did you know that honeybees tap two million flowers in order to gather enough nectar to produce one pound of honey? whatever metaphorical message i was getting at has fallen apart, i’m afraid… something in there about work, and giving, and grieving. i had best be back to the needles. the beekeeper’s quilt could take me a year to make, and it could take me longer, or less, but i think it’ll be my friend for a good long while.