Saturday, December 7, 2013
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"I saw them, I saw them," she said, with equal parts joy and self-congratulation.
"What?" I asked.
"The frogs, the frogs," she chimed. "I've been walking at that bog, and I can see them now -- all over the place."
"There you go," I said. "Now you're sunk. Who knows where this will end? Next thing I know, you'll be walking around with butterfly nets and Mason jars, looking for specimens."
That bog and those counts had turned her into an amateur naturalist, and in the next few years that instinct grew. She started a vegetable garden (utilitarian, edible, a good starting point), then broadened her interest into perennials and hydrangea bushes. She put up a hammock and a porch swing.
She even planted sunflowers -- a favorite of bees.
We are dependent on crops that rely on pollinators. But bees have been dying by the millions in recent years from viruses, bacteria, pesticide use and generalized weakening of their systems.
It was not a phenomenon a lot of people noticed at first, but everywhere now people talk about colony collapse disorder and that our survival depends on the health of bee populations worldwide.
For many, many people, this is the first compelling understanding they have ever had about the interdependency of all of life.
Through the Great Sunflower Project, people around the country will have an opportunity not only to compile information that might give biologists some anecdotal idea about how bee populations are faring -- and for us how to wake up a little bit more.
The fate of bees offers us the rare chance to see firsthand how there are no inconsequential acts, no unimportant gestures, no harmless killing -- of plants, insects, birds or animals. This is a reminder humans need every day now, since the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance as carbon dioxide levels in the air and water continue to rise.
Come Aug. 17, count a bee or two or more wherever you see one. So little of what we have to do these days is simple but this act is not hard. Open your eyes, discover a bee.
You might be surprised where a simple task like that can take you.
North Cairn can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: