Noticing new things along the path

Posted 3/31/19

This is a great time of year for walking. Each day we notice things we hadn’t noticed the day before. This week Jilda pointed to a small dogwood tree down in the hollow enjoying a shaft of morning …

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Noticing new things along the path

Posted

This is a great time of year for walking. Each day we notice things we hadn’t noticed the day before.

This week Jilda pointed to a small dogwood tree down in the hollow enjoying a shaft of morning light. Further down behind the barn, the wild azaleas had blossomed. In a few weeks, Mother Nature will have her own floral arrangement. Each morning in spring starts a day of discovery.

We’ve kept the mailman busy the last few weeks delivering packages from Gurney’s Seeds and Stark Brothers. I ordered a pound of wildflowers and 10 packets of lavender from American Meadow. 

After hearing Sallie Lee speak at the Walker County Beekeeper meeting this week, I added several things to my list. Sallie is an urban extension agent, and she knows a thing or two about trees, flowers, and bees. Aster, milkweed, and white clover are all menu items that honeybees love. These things are now on their way to Empire, Alabama.

There’s an old joke that I’ve heard all my life: 

Do you know how to plant kudzu?

You throw the seeds down and run. 

That joke made me laugh the first 50 times I heard it. I’ve learned through the years that privets are even more prolific than kudzu. I’ve spent the last several summers at war against privets. 

I’m losing that fight, but I’m feeling better since hearing Sallie’s presentation at the bee meeting. She said that honeybees love privets. There was an asterisk next to privets on her presentation, which said that privets are an invasive species and beekeepers should not plant them.  

That wasn’t news to me, but I must say I felt better about losing the privet wars.

Our sister-in-law, Debbie, who lives next door, is upping her exercise game. She walks each day after work on our nature trail. 

Yesterday, I told her to be mindful of the bees as she walked. She smiled and said that her family kept bees all of her young life. Her brother had over a dozen hives at one time. She probably knows more about bees than I do.

The only bees I remember from when I was a kid were feral bees that built their hives in hollowed out oak and hickory trees deep in the woods near Horse Creek.

What I’ve learned so far in my beekeeping journey is that Jilda and I have been bee friendly for as long as we’ve been together. We don’t use pesticides, and we’ve been planting fruit trees, grapevines, blueberry bushes, native shrubs, and as many flowers as we can get our hands on. Tulip poplar, persimmon, sumac, and honeysuckle flourish here.

I know that I’ve said too much about beekeeping these last few weeks, but there’s something about this endeavor that resonates with me. I’m guessing it’s resonating with other people around here, too, because attendance is up dramatically this year. Ricky Grace, who is one of the beekeeping mentors in Walker County said the number of people attending the March meeting was the most ever.

I’ll be thinking about a new topic for my column next week while I’m planting bee food.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, "Life Goes On," is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at rick@rickwatson-writer.com.