When the blooming honeysuckle hit my olfactory system, I was flooded with memories of summers in East Tennessee. With the delicious aroma, I had to stop and take a few deep breaths.
The brook that runs in the back of our house is fed by the spring that creates a small waterfall right around the corner from where we live. The natural spring at the top of the hill is a small protected wild habitat for many of the creatures that dwell among us. No surprise that honeysuckle vine has chosen to weave itself into the edge of this ecosystem. When I walked closer, I noticed there was something very important missing from this scene.
We moved to Brooklyn NY in 2012 and it was our home for 7.5 years and lived in a small apartment with only a fire escape as our backyard, so this honeysuckle air mixed with the sounds of wind, water, and birds is such a welcome relief to our souls.
While in Brooklyn, seeking understanding for healing my own body, I discovered food is medicine, sought after natural healing, and with my diligent search, I stumbled upon a sought-after speaker, farm coach, and regenerative farmer named Joel Salatin who was being interviewed around 2016.
With his poetic descriptions of his farm, he explained the synchronicity of life as it was intended to be and as he has witnessed first hand on his land. That in healing agriculture practices, by treating the animals that eventually become our food in a loving way, honoring their nature and their needs and giving them a beautiful life that actually leads to their health, and through their health leads to our health which leads also to the health of the soil. Listening to him, surprised by tears streaming down my cheeks, I was forever changed. He explained that it was as simple as Love. This must be the connection I lost so long ago.
Growing up in the oblivious ’80s, It’s embarrassing to admit how much apathy I had for the natural world. I just had lost my connection very early. I must have replaced my experience of Awe and wonder for the mysteries of life with consuming man-made possessions, like MTV, and walking around the mall dreaming of what we could buy.
Like being brought back to life with a Defibrillator, watching Joel did this to me. Taking my first breath in a different world of understanding, my eyes were now opened.
I woke up the next day and suddenly couldn’t consume enough content on Regenerative Agriculture, Regenerative soil building with compost, and worm farming, I wanted to know more about how bees work for pollination, how people are choosing ways of alternative sustainable living, Earthship houses, Food Not Lawns, community gardening, foraging, weeds that have more nutrition than kale, and how to utilize Herbal Medicine internally and externally to support the human body. And with my longings growing bigger than our 750 sq ft apartment, we had to leave the city to begin to participate. I couldn’t do anything sitting on our sofa or fire escape.
What is happening to me??? Am I becoming an unintentional 50-year-old hippie? I want to hug trees and give bees a home and feed the birds and forage for medicine and mushrooms and use CBD.
Here in our neighborhood we can drive down a street today and see a cute little 1960’s ranch house on a large property with mature trees and plants just sitting there as it has for 50 years, and tomorrow that same house will be missing. Missing along with all the 100-year-old trees and mature plants plowed down with it. Here today, gone tomorrow.
A new 4k-6k square feet home will be built in its place. The trend here seems to be bigger cars, way bigger houses, & smaller and smaller golf course grass yards. The more the yard looks like carpet and the plants are purely ornamental the better. But what does this mean? It means more fighting against nature and succession and lots of spraying chemicals on the yard, which in turn harms the ecosystem, the bugs, the soil, and the earth continues to suffer not heal.
Standing in front of the honeysuckle, I lean in to smell. That is when I noticed. No bees. Where are the bees? No bees were flying around the honeysuckle. I didn’t have to run for my life!!
Worried. Later that same day on a FaceBook gardener group I belong to someone asked the same question, “Has anyone seen any honey bees this year?” The answer that came back was NO.
Is this normal?
Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. I am not sure if the bees should be out here in the warm climate around the flowers and clovers and honeysuckle, but it seems like they should be. It has been unusually cool on certain days, but warm and sunny for the most part for weeks.
One thing the current omission of bees has done for me is open my eyes to how they actually could vanish, and if they did, there would be this empty feeling and detrimental effects to the human food system. We have taken this natural world for granted for far too long.
I am wondering if one day in the future people in this neighborhood will wish they built smaller houses and kept bigger properties opened so they can grow their own organic food right in their own front or back yard.
Isn’t it now during this pandemic that we have been made aware of how easily broken our food supply chain is and how our food systems like supermarkets are not at all sustainable?
Wouldn’t it be better for builders to build yards that enrich the natural world and live as a part of that story? And wouldn’t it be better to protect the pollinators and bees instead of killing everything with chemicals?
I really hope that the bees won’t disappear from our beautiful earth.
Right now our family is choosing to live in the neighborhood of new mansions against the grain and we are planting food in our suburban front yard and building soil in the back with composting, planting perennial berries and herbs for the wildlife to enjoy, planting flowers and medicinal plants and planting fruit trees too. We are choosing to create a safe haven for bees and pollinators here by not spraying chemicals, and planting plants that invite them to stay awhile. There are a few more people around us doing the same thing, and my hope is that it will start a wave of understanding and change.
Hopefully, I will be able to bless my neighbors with an abundant food harvest come July and will have many healing herbal teas to brew and share.
Wait, my husband just saw one bee in our yard!
The only bee we have seen yet.
Just one bee flying over the clover.
There is hope.