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Bumblebee Slumber

I wait till twilight to harvest the fragrant lavender because of the bees. I am not afraid of them like some people, although I do have a rather traumatic childhood memory of my arm completely swollen and hot to the touch after I got stung by two of them at once; one on my thumb and one on my forearm. I have come to find that bees will leave you be if you return the favor. But during the sunshine hours, the long, graceful lavender stalks bob up and down as the bumblebees move from one to another. It’s more that I don’t want to disturb them as they gather pollen. Bees being so precious and all. This lavender is over 13 years old. She used to grow in the small apartment garden I tended. I dug her up and moved her here with me and she was one of the first things to go in the ground. She transplanted well and now she is woody with age and prolific in production. Each year at this time I watch the purple of the blossoms and the golden yellow and fuzzy black of the bees in their drowsy dance together.But now the air chills with evening and the scant light remains. The lavender is motionless. The bees are gone. So I take my clippers and begin. I grab a handful of the stalks and cut. I breathe in the familiar fragrance that soothes me. I take them to the garden table and arrange them for my drying wrack, cutting the stalks the same length, securing them with a rubber band and hang them with a bit of wire. On the next round, I notice something. Two bumblebees are clinging to their own lavender blooms. They are sleeping. I cut some more. Pulling the loose stalks free causes the ones holding them to move, but the bees don’t. Still they cling, regardless of swinging through the air. Soon I have six bunches drying and just one more to harvest. I have to cut these one by one so I don’t mistakenly take the bee beds. I have to get closer to see in the growing dark and my face comes nearer to the bees than I would ever allow during daylight. But there is nothing to worry about because they are out. They look so cute. I sing them a lullaby as I snip the few remaining stalks. When I am finished, only those two remain. The bees have found their bed for the night. Their perfumed beds in my garden. I imagine they have passed out from too much nectar, and wisely decided the hive was just too far to fly to this intoxicated. I imagine I can hear them snoring.

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