I had the jitters today… nerves a bit jangled, frustrations circling my head like angry guard bees. A neighbor’s disaster, a snarky email, reality-lag from vacation, anger over my stolen ipod (they caught the guy) and ever present economic worries have likely combined with a hormonal low tide to produce kind of an irritating background whine — the emotional equivalent of a bad flourescent light. 

So I prescribed myself my favorite therapy: finding something to do with my hands that reconnects me to my primal brain.

Jeff and I picked raspberries.  It’s a remarkably calming experience, one in which it’s easy to “be present” — cool, green, leafy, with bright red treasures rolling into your palms like unwarranted blessings.

I worked with the bees. I moved my smallest, wimpiest swarm into the stoneware hive I made, so that we can teach each other how bee design works.  I think it has unpredictable flaws — traffic flow? Ventilation? Condensation? — but I remind myself that bees will live in a hollow tree just fine without my engineering, and might well be OK. These were “freebees” — the last, smallest swarm I captured — and I have three more productive hives.

I gave each hive a new super today — (the box stacked on top of the other boxes as an attic to store extra honey). I intend to exact a honey tax from each hive, once honey flow is done for the year.  I am fascinated with the different personality (bee-ality?) of each, wild and domestic, calm and pissy.  I cultivate a frame of mind, at an open hive, that’s almost a meditation, talking calmly to the guard bees who hover and watch me (or at the wild hive, bounce off my face netting.)

Jeff worked in the garage/shop building a base for my clay hive, and the little bantam hen (Jennecita) came in as always, chattign with him as she tried out each of the cubbyholes in his workbench, looking for a place to lay an egg. This is a familiar routine. He picks her up, explaining to her kindly that the cubbies are for tools and not chickens, and he carries her back to  the yard.  She pops through the fence pickets and comes back to his workbench, resuming her search and talkign the whole time. If the studio door is open she’ll go in and lay an egg on a shelf between pots, in a giant bisque bowl, or in a basket by the woodstove. She’s quite selective, and will try several spots before selecting one, chatting the whole time.

Jeff and I got the kids and an old bedsheet, and we stood under the mulberry tree with it spread wide, shaking the branches. It rains big purple juicy berries into the sheet, and onto our heads and shoulders, leaving red juicy spots. Lightning bugs and earwigs always tumble into the sheet and down our necks — it’s part of the adventure, and my compatriots will be rewarded with pie before bedtime.

This is the kind of activity that wakes up some part of my brain evolved over tens of thousands of years. Kneading a loaf, watching a campfire, working my fingers around dirt or wood or clay.  Rocking a baby. Weaving on a loom, making a basket — all calming and right, remembered, somehow, as worthwhile work in a world of cell phone, keyboard, alarm clock and paperwork.

I opened the pop-up camper to clean and air, and set everything right. Unlike my house, it’s small enough to actually be done at some point: bandaids replenished in the first aid kit, food stores tucked away, cords coiled, kitchen wiped down, camping gear stowed — and then the whole thing cranks down into a little box on wheels, home in a rolling suitcase that hooks to a bumper hitch and pulls like a dream.  If it was mine alone — (maybe when the kids are grown) — it would be curtained in batiks and India prints, fat cushions, oriental rug, tassels and bright paint instead of fake wood grain and linoleum… but it’s a vehicle, not a destination, and other projects beckon first.

Now I want to plant spinach in the cool before dark, in the place where my hoop house will be come the frost. And I need to make a big lid, for a soup tureen so big you could bathe a baby in. Jeff wants handmade plates for our table… by best stuff has always gone to market, to market… but this seems important, money be damned.

This summer has been a delicious reassurance that I was not meant for Texas: cool, rainy, green, breezy, blue, cloudy, verdant, fertile, damp and generous.

Connor is waiting the weeks it requires before he can release his white roller pigeons and have them return home.  Hopefully my broken camera will be shipped to me by then.  Watching pigeons circle and land every night at dinnertime is a joy. Last night he went into the dovecote and put a bright band on each of their legs.  They have been named Jupiter and Opal, Pilot and Blanca.  May they be fruitful and multiply, and dodge the winter hawks.

OK… back to work — deliberately, calmly, and trying my best to be here now.

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