Bees and God
This was perhaps my first, experimental page on Life is a Fountain. It was a test of building a new page here. Its topic is far too specific to keep in Life is a Fountain going forward. I mean, I have things to say about God, and I even have a few things to say about Bees. But Bees and God? So the right thing to do is clearly… delete it.
And yet, it already has a certain sentimental value.
Can’t I put Bee things and God things here?
Also, I like to keep a few backwater pages you are not likely to wander upon here. Why not this one?
So if you’re reading this, well done you! Maybe you are some sort of master coder? There is no easy way to get here right now, though I suppose one day I may put in an unobtrusive little door to this page. Maybe you came in through that? Maybe you climbed the stone walls of Life is a Fountain and slipped through a window? Maybe you are a God, or a Bee?
I have been reading books about bees, especially bumblebees. This has made me far more attentive to them and excited by their presence. Seeing a bumblebee in my yard was not formerly an event with the thrilling significance of seeing a cat or a raccoon, but suddenly now it is. One of those giant, tiny beasts comes trundling about the flowers of our weeds, and I am delighted and fully engaged. I think it helps too that my vague uneasiness about a bumblebee stinging me is almost entirely gone. The author of A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures With Bumblebees says bumblebees are very non aggressive and, it turns out, I simply believe him. Suddenly I am finding bumblebees to be downright friendly.
This bumblebee interest has also made me far more aware of the pollination process and has me looking at flowers in new ways too. Walking through my neighborhood yesterday I saw a fantastic flower in bloom, a great saucer of white petals all full of a lovely yellow forest of pistils and stamens in the middle. I thought, what a glorious thing, what a feast for the little ones, what a brilliant invention of propagation! I mean, there are all these plants, all over the world, nearly all of them unable to walk around, relying on wind and luck to make children, casting their hopes and dreams a few hundred paltry feet at the absolute best, when, suddenly, somewhere, the flower appears. The flower goes into collaboration with insects, bees. It provides food in exchange for travel privileges. Everyone benefits! It’s lovely.
Reflecting on this modern pollination, all done with especially beautiful and fanciful creatures (flowers, bumblebees, hummingbirds!), I thought: If the gods had stopped here, if this was the full model for all the operating of life and the universe, all my dissent would cease. I would be religious in the deepest sense, an acolyte, a creature of pure wonderment and praise. I would say “God is great” and “God is good.” I would not hesitate in my adulation of the endless wisdom of the world. I would not mock God’s secret plan because God’s plan would not be secret. It would be laid bare and unassailable, complete and endlessly radiant.
But alas, the gods do not, or God does not, stop at the inventions of pollination and rainbows. With bumblebees things go dark quickly. Assorted bumblebee parasites invade hives and implant larvae in the bees themselves that then eat their way out of the bee, exploding from the inside. There are varieties of bees that even specialize in this. There is no shortage of disease, death, and attack. Infanticide is a ready part of bumblebee life too as sisters compete with each other for motherhood. The kindly bumblebee can be a killer too.
And so I write my blog in opposition, because some religious figure must do so, some theology must look at science, competition, animals exploding from other, eaten alive animals, at the gods’ twisted invention of the living nightmare, and say:
The world is a master class in complete systems, a wonder of moving parts. It is full of fascinations and endless genius, beauty and terror. And it is everything, immutable, beyond us. But if it was made by anyone, that being has a cold heart. And you have no responsibility to worship. Indeed the impulse should be resisted. We are here to fight the gods, for they give and they take and, most of all, they are wanton. The gods have no secret plan. We cannot make the Universe better. But here is faith for you:
Somewhere it has to be possible.
At sunset everything turns pink; the city, the string of clouds running unevenly over the horizon, and the river itself. The brown Mississippi is lurid pink, trees, the city of skyscrapers is shimmering pink, sky, the clouds are just… pink. I lean up against my windows. A giant mote of cottonwood fluff floats right, then it floats left, then it drops straight down.
It’s all too pretty.
It may be a trick.
“Just try and distrust miracles.” It challenges.
Every day we know generally speaking what will happen tomorrow. We are accurate enough 99 times out of a hundred. That is an amazing level of accuracy!
But fucking hell that one time…
8/12/21: Weird experiment day!
Today I am going through every page I have in Life is a Fountain and adding something hopefully relevant to it from the annals of Clerkmanifesto. It’s my desperate attempt to freshen up everything after being away for a couple weeks. So here you go:
Yesterday we answered the first and second most common questions we receive here at clerkmanifesto. But what’s the third most common question?
The third most common question is “What’s your favorite bee?”
To be honest we don’t get a lot of questions here at clerkmanifesto.
Anyway, thanks so much for asking. I like all bees equally. They’re such great pollinators. Honey is delicious. And it’s really fun how they fly around and land on flowers.
Just kidding. My favorite bee is the green bee!
No, no, I’m very fond of them too. Just, I’m not a hundred percent sure they’re actually, technically, a bee.
They’re very little and sometimes they seem like little flies the way they group up.
But yeah. They’re great.
did you see the green bees?
So let’s say for the sake of argument that you’re out there taking pictures of some pretty flower, like this:
And you think, these are interesting flowers.
And you’re about to move on.
And then a bee decides to drop in on your flower. Not just any bee. And bees are pretty great to begin with.
But a green bee!
So you say,
Let’s take a closer look.
It kind of livens everything up, don’t you think?
It’s not just that these green bees, like other bees, have that black and yellow stripe thing on their bottom half. Or that they hang out with flowers, which makes for extremely lovely settings. Or that they have wings and fly. All of which is pretty amazing. Or that they pollinate, which means a lot to me not just because I like flowers, but also because I… eat… food.
I eat food.
I want to live.
I know other people that I want to live too.
And the green bees help with this!
But also, and this is uniquely important,
they are green.
And not just any green.
Check this out:
And then look at those chubby legs, and the way they’re all covered with pollen.
And the great thing is that we actually can look! These bees hang around for a long time. They aren’t particularly shy. And they take their time, going about their… stuff.
Do you remember how maybe I’ve mentioned that with all my close up photography most of my pictures come out blurry? Well they do. But these friendly bees let me take so many pictures of them that a few of them inevitably turn out okay. This is great. I can even try the nearly impossible super zooming in and have a few turn out.
Look at all the pollen stuck to the little bee hairs here:
In the above picture the pollen is a pretty evident dusting all over the bee. But one thing I love with the green bee is how the pollen gets so thick you can hardly tell where the pollen leaves off and the bee begins.
Or, is it, rather, where the bee leaves off and the pollen begins.
Keep that one in mind with the last picture.
You see, as I was taking all these pictures of the green bee, in a neighbor’s flower bed, I started thinking about writing a blog post about this bee. And I decided I wanted a good portrait picture of him. But bees can be very different than you or I. I mean their faces are… different. And so are their eyes.
So I tried a lot of different approaches.
In the end this one was the best. It’s more of a candid sort of portrait than a formal one.
It looks like he’s smiling.