It was one of those perfect mornings. A brief thunderstorm overnight had left us a rain-washed garden. Steam rose from the soil as the sun crept over the horizon, promising another hot, humid day.
Buzzing wings told me the first laborers were already at work. I stopped at the patch of large zinnias, a favorite with my flying friends. A tiny bee was burrowed halfway into a flower, pollen flying every which way. He surfaced, changed direction, and dove again.
Fascinated, I tried to estimate his chances of getting airborne. There was precious little bee to be seen.
It was a yellow fluffball in perpetual motion
Defying all the gravity laws, he struggled into the air to crash land a little further onto another flower. Shaking off some pollen, he rose again. Repeated the process a few times until once comfortable with his load, he left for other pastures. Not having any idea how vital his load was for pollination.
I am an avid gardener. Non-existent manicured hands and feet, scratches and bruises, tacky shorts and tank tops, sunglasses, and a disreputable baseball cap, stained beyond recognition, is standard attire for me.
It helps that I love being outside. The sun, the smell of freshly mowed grass, the feel of soil between my fingers, the aroma that rises from the earth as I turn it — this is the life.
A garden is a work in progress
You never ever finish. Something you liked, you come to dislike. Or you planted it in the wrong spot. Like my beautiful hibiscus that flowered and flowered. Huge tangerine flowers with a pistil, covered in pollen. The bees, the butterflies, a dragonfly or two all visited doing their bit for pollination.
Then came winter
It lost all its leaves and went dormant. I had planted it in the wrong spot. Not taking into consideration the sun does not shine in that corner during winter. Not a chance of more pollen come summer.
Yes, there is always that. Planting something in the wrong place. Or worse, trying something unsuitable for the zone you live in. Desert plants genuinely do not like lots of rain. Says the woman who attempted to plant portulaca in Belgium.
Now add to this tale of gardening woe our gypsy lifestyle that had us move around quite a bit. What does well in South Africa does not do well in Belgium. And what flourishes in Vermont will not survive in Florida. But wherever we went, I had to have a garden.
“God is closer to you in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” I read that somewhere
Gardening has a learning curve. And always, but always, one thing was kept in mind.
I was aware of the birds, bees, butterflies, any flying creature that might alight on my flowers.
I experimented extensively, asked questions, and researched what would successfully grow where I was living. Flowers that would draw the insects that pollinate our world. Ensure that there is a harvest — food for a hungry world. And beauty for fellow gardeners.
This was drummed into me when I took a course as a Master Gardener.
We are dependent on these tiny flying creatures
And what on earth do we think we are doing when we spray for insects. Don’t we realize we are destroying the beneficial ones as well?
I do not have answers, only questions. I have spent countless hours picking off Japanese beetles and drowning them in a soapy solution. I have spent more time than I had on the “squish and swish” method of dealing with aphids and more. I had perpetual yellow fingers to vouch for that. I painstakingly concoct a home remedy of vinegar, dishwashing soap, and Epsom salts to kill weeds.
And I sympathize with farmers that must protect their crops.
But if there was no pollination, there would be no crops to start with.
“Pollination is a crucial part of growing the fruit and crops we eat. A third of the total volume of the world’s agricultural produce, from fruit to coffee beans, relies on pollination. … Wind and water play a part in transferring pollen, but about 75% of crop plants require pollination by insects and animals.” (www.countrysideonline.co.uk/)
“Many of the country’s crops would not exist without the honeybee at bloom time. Crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honeybee pollination.” https://www.abfnet.org/page/PollinatorFacts
All life on the farm is interconnected — especially when it comes to pollination. While wind and water carry some pollen, animals help to pollinate an estimated 87.5 percent of flowering plant species. These animals come in many shapes, sizes, and numbers — including a diverse spectrum of life from honeybees to humans. https://www.cropscience.bayer.com/people-planet/biodiversity/pollinators
While watching my little Bee Friend load himself, the thought came.
Pollination for God
Do we pollinate ourselves with the Word? Do we pollinate ourselves by reading good books? Listening to good music. Engaging in heartfelt, “lift me up” conversation? Making the right friends?
Spending time with God. Listening, not doing
And once loaded so heavy we can barely move, do we go out and pollinate?
There’s Time, Treasure and Talent, of course. Our churches are going through hard times as most parishioners have not set up automatic weekly offerings.
But I’m thinking beyond that.
Do we give of ourselves?
A smile here. A nod there. A friendly greeting. A helping hand. A sympathetic ear. A phone call. A snail mail card.
There are so many small ways in which we can pollinate.
And if you are fortunate enough to be laden with blessings, heavily pollinated in these troubled times, buckling under the goodness of the Lord –
Do you pay it forward?
I can go see any doctor I like at any time. Many cannot. Unquestionably this is the time to donate to your favorite charities.
My husband makes multiple trips to the car to bring in groceries he bought for only us two. Should this not send me running to donate to the foodbank?
Our local animal shelter is overwhelmed, taking in animals from hurricane-ravaged areas. Can I spare something for food and care?
If not, why not?
That little bee did not hold on to his load. Instead, he spread it as far and wide as he could.