i’m the decider–not//not bees

yellowjacketThis is a yellow jacket, not a bee

sb10067340d-001This is a honeybee

bumblebeeThis is a bumblebee

A couple of weeks ago, the quasi-spouse and I went mushroom hunting at Priest Lake (in Idaho, USA) collecting about 20lbs of white chanterelles and two handfuls of masutaki.

Afterwards, we drive to Hill’s Resort for a well-earned beer. As we move onto the deck we see a sign taped to the door leading outside with a comic rendition of a bee. The sign reads something like this: Due to the excess of bees we will not be serving food on the deck.

Soon, we’re  sipping our drinks as we gaze at the gorgeous clear lake. A couple yellow jackets buzz around checking for edibles. I grouse to the quasi-spouse about the derogatory “bee” sign and how it never ceases to vex me that most people in all echelons of life—be they liberal or conservative, nature enthusiasts, loggers, scientists, urban guerrillas or art aficionados—call yellow jackets or hornets or wasps, bees.

They’re not BEES.

They’re closer to ants than bees. The only thing similar is that bees can sting but rarely do. For Pete’s sake, I’ve stood in the biennial swarm of honeybees that vacate the feral hive in my back chimney, and I’ve never been stung. When Dario was a toddler we’d caress both honey and bumble bees while they worked flowers. Yellow jackets or hornets never let you pet them; too territorial.

I’m pissy about this because we don’t SEE, we label. And often with careless jargon. We decide things are what we think they are, not what they actually are. We do this to moose, bears, snakes, spiders, children, Muslims, women, their boobs, mushrooms, southerners, wine, trees—you name it—ad nauseum and we do this ALL THE TIME.

Deciding how another feels, thinks or who they are, are inaccurate judgments and those judgments dismiss and negate Self and render others invisible—be they human or anything else. It’s a closed system designed by you and your biases, likes and dislikes. It matters not if you think someone’s the most adorable lovely person or a blockhead, or that yellow jackets are bees; each decision is defective.

We commonly practice this type of “deciding” in romantic relationships and about children and teenagers, but most egregiously with other species.

Observations are not the same thing as judgments. We all get to witness and deduce what we see. Intuit, not determine as reality. Stereotypes are short cuts for some observations but they’re not “true.” They’re “true-ish.” More on stereotypes in an upcoming post.

So, what can we do?

  • Use accurate language: a bee is a bee; a hornet is a hornet; a woman is a person; a child is a human.
  • Speak from your Self. What you like/dislike, fear/revere is yours and it’s not to be imposed on another as “fact.”
  • Whatever it is, is what it is. Accept “it” as it is.

planet death…and then there are honey bees

Most of us don’t think about the fact that we live on a planet where in order for something to live many things have to die. From viruses to plankton, wood to wheat, from whales to humans someone is the prey and someone is the predator.

There are exceptions: bees make honey but don’t harm blossoms in doing so; ewes, cows, nannies (goats), etc. give milk without bloodshed; fish, chickens, turtles and ducks donate eggs, beautiful ovate/round gifts; a myriad of trees and plants generously award us their edible jewels every season!

One of the tenets of Jainism is that all living beings desire life, not death, and thereby no one has the right to take away that life. Jains feel that all beings “render service” to each other; that’s how they circumvent the act of “killing” plants to eat or accidentally crushing insects while walking.

I’m not a Jain nor a member of any religion though I do hold a pantheistic in view. I’ve been a vegetarian almost all my life and even though I have chickens—my “girly girls”—I rarely eat their eggs. My quasi will, my kids will, my friends will. I still appreciate the girls’ magical benefactions.

So rather than blithely devouring a slab of cow, a curl of pig, or—in my case—grains and veggies, let’s revere all beings’ life forces especially if we’re killing them to nurture us. Them being plants, wood, water but  especially the animals. Let’s honor their offerings of Self for our nourishment and for their earthly service.

Foremost: allow each animal these three H’s: health, haven, and harmony. Empower them to walk this earth living genuine lives before they come to our mouths.

celebrate the grrrls!

As I finished tucking the seedlings into the garden, I observed the members of the feral honey bee hive that live in my back chimney circle around me to drink out of the bird bee bath that stands in the garden. I usually greet those lovely wingeds as “my girls.”

But now I have five young hens who I call my “girly, girls.”

And I often dub my teenaged-to-women friends, Grrrls.

What’s with all the girls?

  • Honey bees are the only insect in the world that make honey. That’s astonishing! And only ‘girls’ do it.
  • And all the remarkable cheddar, chevre, parmigiano, gouda, bufala, yogurt, quark…all made by cows, nannys, ewes, water buffaloes = females.
  • Chickens, ducks, turtles, fish: each laying eggs humans can use and enjoy from omelets to soup to sushi. All given to us by the girls.

Creating life is something we ascribe to “god,” and in the christian-judeo tradition, that god is—IMHO—erroneously male. Sorry, but that plainly goes against the laws of the universe, or at least the environmental laws of this planet. Most natural food gifts from animals that don’t involve slaughter are ultimately given to us by ‘the girls.’

I’m not saying that the males have nothing to do with any aspect of creation or are even enjoyable (when neutered) [insert smile here] but ultimately and ironically they have been made somewhat scientifically obsolete—in an intrinsic sense—by a mostly male-driven and researched science when they created sperm banks.

Maybe those researchers might turn their talents toward ‘spinning straw into gold’ which is how I view what these ‘girls’ magically do, and that I never cease to marvel that women can actually create new life. Having participated in this process twice and then watched my body produce the needed nourishment for those newly entered beings, well, the awe is still present all these years later.

Celebrate life!