to tell the bees when there has been a change.
I have heard that that they will take offense and leave a place if they
are not treated with respect, as part of the household at a passing. What
a misfortune that would be! Without them nothing green would flourish,
no matter how sweet the soil, how caring a hand tended the garden. But
more - their company, their fierce determination as they share the work,
the busy buzzing of their conversation
my life would not flourish
without that companionship.
And I have seen that the bees are messengers; as they go about their business,
fertilizing the last fall blooms and setting aside with their unquestioning
faith the last of this years stores for Winter and the promise of Spring,
they will spread the sad news while still working to encourage life.
My news was a little unusual, for the darkest parts, the deaths, had happened
elsewhere and some time ago. Still, it is a parting, to be sure, and my
heart ached at the separation. I was, as he had warned me, torn in two.
Yet it was the loss of the head of the house, and I knew it was my duty
to tell the soft-furred ladies their master had gone. I wanted to have
all my obligations fulfilled before I went again through my front door.
I stood on the path a while, choosing my time and my place. The garden
table by the window where he had told me many stories to keep me out of
my fathers way, knowing that the words of a good tale flourished in my
young brain like mint
the kitchen garden, with its fragrance of
lavender and wild thyme that spoke to me now of a place far away that
had offered a moment of healing and home, and the great-hearted friend
who had believed in our need
the rose arbor where he had told me
to stop being so foolish, and welcomed my bride with open arms and heart
You already know, I suppose. I am a simple man, and straightforward about
these things. It called like a beacon, and I followed the golden light
that gleamed through its branches down to the new tree in the party field.
The ground around was wild here, as he had preferred, winking eyes in
the grass, buttercups and clover, new petals of elanor that coaxed us
toward autumn unafraid. The ladies hummed softly in the sweet late air,
full buckets on their legs as they readied themselves for the trip home
over the fields, crisscrossing paths in the late heat, singing as they
went - as much like four young friends with full packs and light hearts
out for an evening ramble as made no difference. They had not yet left
for their home.
I put both hands behind my back and tried to think of some fine words,
reciting-words, the kind you are glad you thought to say when you look
back. But I had no words as big as his heart, or as full as mine, or as
soft as the bees.
I rocked back and forth a few times, and was startled to hear myself speak
in the gathering dusk. "He's gone."
That wouldn't do at all, but how much could I say without loosing my own
way. "He isn't dead
but he's not coming back, if you take my
meaning. You have the right to know that I am the man in the house for
now. I'll do my best for us all."
The ladies hovered in the still air, singing in a way that didn't seem
so different from the night we met the elves while crossing to Crickhollow
now that I thought about the two things together. Then they brushed against
the golden stars that lit the lawn, and turned to cross the field.
Whatever it is that draws them over the grass and the fields to their
own hive, unerringly, every time - I looked up and saw it, in the light
shining in the small round window next to my front door.
Bees take their time - you cannot rush them. But I thought they would
give me a chance.
My step was a little lighter as I walked up the path and went inside to
yellow light, and fire; the warm smells of cooking and welcome. Rose drew
me to my chair without a question; gave me a kiss and put Elanor in my
lap. My daughter looked up at me and smiled like all the stars of heaven
twinkling on at once.
I drew a deep breath. "Well, I'm back," I said.
fell on a Friday this year, and there was on on-line challenge at Henneth
Annun to write a story that dealt with a superstition, either adapted
from earth or invented for Middle Earth.
Bees there has been a death in the family, or a change in the head of
the household is a little know superstition these days, but I remember
speaking to the bees with my grandmother as a child.
It is a Scots/Celtic
superstition, and so it should have a third component beside the two Sam
mentions. For me, it is that the bee is a symbol of resurrection and immortality,
often used that way in heraldry, too. The word is related to beo, byw
- 'to be living.'