Sunday, December 20, 2015

I'll bee home for Christmas

Of all the animals I've associated with Christmas, bees had never been on the list or in the creche. There were sheep in the fields where the shepherds were keeping watch, and donkeys and cows in the stable, and the camels on which the Three Wise Men traveled, but bees? Well, as of today's Writer's Almanac, Carol Ann Duffy has fixed that. Bees may not have been part of the traditional Christmas scene, but I'll be mindful of them in the future, especially since the poem, and the bees themselves, highlight the interdependence, reciprocity, community and sharing that I believe is the heart of this season. Conversely, if our Winters keep warming, and we don't cut back on our use of pesticides, Winter clusters of bees may become just another Christmas memory.

bee hives in Summer
bee hives in Summer
Photo by J. Harrington


bees on honeycomb
bees on honeycomb
Photo by J. Harrington


The Bee Carol


Silently on Christmas Eve,
the turn of midnight’s key;
all the garden locked in ice —
a silver frieze —
except the winter cluster of the bees.

Flightless now and shivering,
around their Queen they cling;
every bee a gift of heat;
she will not freeze
within the winter cluster of the bees.

Bring me for my Christmas gift
a single golden jar;
let me taste the sweetness there,
but honey leave
to feed the winter cluster of the bees.

Come with me on Christmas Eve
to see the silent hive —
trembling stars cloistered above —
and then believe,
bless the winter cluster of the bees.


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