Candlemas Day has come and gone. This day divides my winter. It is the time when half the candles and half the hay must remain for what is left of the winter. Here in Canada all the farmers are aware of this measuring stick in their farms. Too little spells too late and is always a problem.
Today having waved Candlemas goodbye, I checked my usual haunt. It is a bee tree. It grows to the left of the lane that leads to my house. A long time ago, this basswood boasted a wild colony of honey bees. The queen must have headed for this Tilia americana to set up house. She and her five pound weight of female companions on wing got to work.
They dug out the soft and probably rotting interior into a long cavern and set up house. The queen tempted a drone or two to make a mating flight. She got fertilized and cast the male aside with the carelessness of a diva. Then she began the process of laying in to the snow-white honey comb. The bee factory was a-buzz.
Chris and I would take an evening walk to the bee tree. We went out of curiosity to visit these creatures who cross-pollinated our crops. These bees were slightly darker that the Italian bees we kept in our hives about a mile away. These bees knew us and would venture down to check us out, too.
One spring morning we were shocked to see the face of a female racoon glare out of the entry hole of the cavity. The bees had gone. Moved to better pastures, those of a heavenly station I suspect. We had a new visitor.
In time the racoon mom came to know us, too. She would pop her bandit face out of her new condo and quickly ignore us with the grace and careful addiction of the truly wild. Until one bad winter, after Candlemas Day, she looked thin. So I did what every Irish transplant does, I brought her my table scraps of meat.
Then I noticed that the foxes were on patrol around the bee tree. A little farther away the fishers came sniffing. And then the coyotes breezed by, followed in hot pursuit by our ravens that roost in our cedar log barn. These tricksters did the usual double-clutch aerobatics and raven ripples of speech when they saw us. Next came the deer and the flying squirrels. There is a hawk and several owls.
As we walk down the snow covered lane, the temperature was icy. It had been -45 degrees centigrade or Fahrenheit the night before, so things were tough for the creatures inside and outside of the bee tree. Then we saw a set of other prints. They were big and wide. The length between them was long. They also had a repeating pattern of a large animal that was on a stroll. Was it a large cat? Was it a large wolf? I am not sure. We returned to the wood stove to study our book of animal tracks. I’s still not sure, nor is Chris.
Soon, I will leave the tracks of Candlemas Day behind and travel for the film, “Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees”. There will be special previews, one in California and another in North Carolina. From my bee tree I hope to gather more people to visit the film and learn what I have learned from nature. We are all connected and one of kindness around one bee tree can bring about wonderful and unexpected consequences. For us all!