pointers

Did you know some spiders love lavender bushes? They learn to hide deep within the slender stems. Their eight crafty eyes scan for a fuzzy abdomen, a whzzz of wings. They creep nearer, and then...

I didn't have a clue about such scenarios, until I was standing in the sun a couple weeks ago, on one of those first warm days that finally appeared in Western Oregon. The honey bees seemed as happy as I, and we were all drawn to the color and scent bushing over the white brick walkway (last summer Tim bought larger bricks for a good deal somewhere and improved the walk). The afternoon purred along, until I was shaken from my reverie by a change of movement in the lavender.

Three bees had morphed their cadence from the usual land here, stick face in, zip over here, check next flower. Now they were at arrowy attention, in close proximity, pulsing a message with their bodies. From three angles they strove toward something, as if pointing.

The thing was a bee, but not. It was stuck on a stalk where all had gone wrong. I jumped back as the well-known alarm in my middle went off. Spiderish movements! Black and hairy! Eww! I was quieter than the bees, since they kept buzzing, but my anxiety matched theirs. The bee was captive; the spider (likely a jumping variety) jittered and jagged, securing his grip.

The free bees must have smelled the captive's pheromones. Their language contains "Help me!" better and more eerie in silence than any Vincent Price creepshow. But the scent-call must have ended quickly. Sure as the spider knew his business, the struggling bee quieted, and its hivemates returned to more fluid toil at the lavender blossoms.

Since then, in my mind, I keep returning to this gruesome vignette. Of course the truth of its morality is a matter of perspective. For the spider it was all in a day's hunt. And spiders, though my phobia screams differently, have the right to dine, even to prefer honey.

The workings of nature and my nature buzz around me. I am human. To me, that fact shouts responsibility. I'd have saved the poor bee if I could've. That's me, today in my backyard, where life has plunked me.

Also, though, sad as it is, if I had been someone educated toward inventing things to help make the world run more efficiently (or whatever scenarios have driven the people who've changed our food), I could have invented some of the biochemical stuff Monsanto employs -- the stuff that extinguishes millions of bees because the hybrid blossoms it produces don't look right to the critters and they miss their chance to dine. I would have acted in terms of my perspective.

Yet there's always the hopeful chance I'd have happened upon the afternoon when, sunshine-starved, I'd have wandered out to my lavender bush. There, perhaps wrestling with deeper morality, I'd have noticed three bees when they pointed.

Comments

jodi said…
I would have saved the bee, too. :)
Deanna said…
I know, Jodi. You'd have also figured out its emotional structure and backstory, right? ;o)
Your writing here reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Diane Ackerman.