From the happy kingdom.

From the happy kingdom.

Our last post ended with me leaving the newly combined Rose Hive Tower to “sort things out.” I stepped out of the bee yard, stripping off gloves, veil, bee jacket, and heavy shoes as I made my way to the back door. Normally, I don’t “suit up” as extensively—or at all—but I had expected to be tinkering around in Rose and Freyja pretty extensively and sometimes the gear comes in handy. Handy, yes, but bee gear is an extra layer of heat on a warm day. This day, I finished my tasks in a drenching flood of sweat.  Yanking off the jacket and hat was—literally—a breath of fresh air.

Actually, though, I love putting on my bee gear as much as I like pulling it off. I’ve put on sacramental robes before to assist in church services, and at Sundance when I dressed each morning in my sage wreaths and shawl. There is a joy to stepping into the traditional garb of sacred realms, and I’ve come to view donning my bee gear in the same manner. But sometimes I don’t follow through with ritual in the ditching of the garb. On a hot day, I tear it off as fast as my hands will work. I think I made it from the bee yard to the shower in a minute flat.

After my shower, I hurried back to the bee yard to check on the progress. My concerns about a possible bee battle melted the instant I saw the hive. Bees clustered as usual on the entrance landing to the Rose Hive. Maybe the cluster was a bit larger than usual, but not by so much. The air around the hive was no longer a buzzing amber cloud. Yes, hundreds of bees were coming and going to and from the hive, but with the focused purpose the Rose Hive exhibited daily. There were no battles at the door, bee-on-bee. There were no bees milling frantically where the two hives had formerly stood. All was in order.

And that was what I noticed the most: The calm, the order. It was as though these three hives had desired to be One for weeks. The addition of the fresh comb to Rose Hive seemed to take the energy in the apiary from charging to dancing. The hives had morphed into a new body, a new form, and it was all good.

But the Goddess of Morph was by no means finished with me. At the bucket pond, Legs awaited me with a surprise that would catch my breath in my throat on that very auspicious day.

Legs, as you may remember, is the bullfrog tadpole who has been slowly morphing since I brought him home as a small tadpole last summer. Back then, his body was about the size of a small grape. He grew steadily and headed into winter with a body grown to the size of an egg yolk. He hibernated in our bucket pond, and appeared in late spring with two tiny back legs. Always secretive, he vanished from view when the duckweed covered the entire top of the pond by early June. I did not see him again until mid-July. He looked about the same, then, and I figured he’d overwinter again before morphing into His Frogness.

000_2163Then, on the 10th of August, I posted a FaceBook picture of Legs with small front legs! Whoo-hoo! It was quite an event after such a long stint of relative non-change. Legs began “sitting” on all fours in the shallow portion of the pond, allowing his flat head to break the surface of the water. I likened it to us putting our toe in to test the water temperature. Legs was doing the same, but opposite:  He was poking his forehead out to test an entirely new element: Air.

Still, he still looked pretty much like an egg yolk with legs and a long tail. But on the day that I merged my hives, Legs had undergone an over-night transformation. When I went to the pond that afternoon to check on my leggy tadpole, there sat…a frog! You can see by the photo that the change was quite dramatic. Especially the eyes—the windows to the soul. Even the frog soul.

In a matter of a few magical hours, his flat, dark pollywog eyes had turned gold and popped out like two, glistening planets. In his wog stage, I had looked deep into his face with a magnifying glass and sensed a creature almost entirely closed off from me. But in his frog eyes was an expression of wonder and openness I had not seen before. He sat upright in the gravel, breathing air, suddenly a creature who could live between realms, as comfortable in water as in air.

Legs as His Frogness. Ta-Dah!!!

Legs as His Frogness. Ta-Dah!!!

I grinned and laughed and did a quick happy dance at the side of the bucket pond. Then I hurried over to the worm compost bin and collected a small handful of wiggling soldier fly maggots and dumped them next to Legs, who would now be eating protein instead of pond plants. So many changes, so quickly, and so utterly.

Between the bees and Legs, my thoughts were spiraling high and free. Transformation and  morphing: What power! What risk! What possibility! Trust Nature to bring me a dramatic enactment of the energetic twists and turns that had been engulfing my heart and spirit the past couple of weeks.

It seems that whenever I am in the midst of something important, Nature will mimic me, teaching me what I most need to know, or showing me the changes I am making in a form I can absorb—like medicine. Or perhaps when I am struggling with something, I am more able to see its metaphor made manifest in Nature because I am sensitized to it. Like how you see nothing but Volkswagens on the road when you have just bought one.

You see, I, too, have been morphing, only I did not realize it was happening to me until my frog eyes suddenly popped up. Then all of a sudden, I was seeing the world and myself with new vision. New eyes had come upon me. Overnight, unexpectedly.

I won’t go into the details here, because I want this to remain universal in its application. So I will put it this way. Have you ever struggled with something that made your body feel tense and anxious all over? That chased away your sleep and replaced it with jitters and heavy sighs? Have you ever struggled with something for so long you ceased to realize you were even struggling because the anxiety began to feel like part of your normal state of being?

Over time, have you prayed about this struggle, perhaps? Prayed for understanding, or change, or reconciliation, or acceptance, or peace? Or meditated on it and wondered where the agitation ever started or why you were the way you were? Have you ever felt the need to explain yourself to other people, to justify what you felt (deep inside but never admitted to yourself) was simply your right to just be alive?

Have you ever given up hope that the struggle might be resolved, and simply devoted your energy to trying to cope with it in as least self-destructive ways as possible?

Then, one evening, when the struggle was particularly acute and the agitation roiling in your gut and setting your hands to shaking, did something happen? Something uncomplicated. Simple. Like a friend on the phone saying, “Why do you feel the need to justify yourself? Why don’t you just take a deep breathe and say ‘blah.'” Well, she didn’t say, “say blah.” She said a few words more, but only a few. Maybe just seventeen or so.

Then, did the something simple that happened to you settle deeply into some dark crevice in your psyche, and near-instantly heal it?

If this has not happened to you, I pray that it will, and soon. If this has not happened to you, I urge you to take heart and hope by the fact that it happened to me, that it can and will happen to you.

Overnight, as with the bees, something was combined within me without struggle. The result was a me that was suddenly a bit larger and more integrated. Overnight, I saw myself and those close to me—family and friends—with new, golden eyes. It was as though I had been struggling to see through murky water, and could now see through the clarity of fresh air. Everyone looked different. Larger. More complex. More precious. Myself included. My inner apiary became calm and centered.

To friends, I alluded to the bees and to Legs, using them as exquisite metaphors for a process I could ill put into words. They became my words.

Since last week, I have been reminded of the risk of transformation, of morphing from one form into another. Since the day I took the photo here of Legs in his frogness, I had not seen hide nor hair of him, nor tail nor toe nor anything else. The very last image I saw of him was him leaping like Barishnikov across the length of the pond to escape my looming face. I thought at that moment, “Wow, if he leaps out of the pond with his tail still intact, he could be in big trouble.”  It seems that I conjured up calamity. Beware your words.

I had put off writing this post because I could not see how to end it with Legs’ disappearance. It just was not coming together in a way that felt whole. But last night, as I took Mazel out to pee for the last time, I stopped by the small fountain pond where the bees water, just to watch them carve lazy patterns in the air above the singing water. I put my face close to a amber bee, lapping up water on the edge of the fountain’s second tier. And there he was. Just like that. In the pond portion of the fountain, below the bee. Legs looked up at me with his golden eyes. He was hidden in the last of this year’s duckweed, hoping for a bee to drop his way.

Legs had indeed catapulted from the 100-gallon trough pond to the wooden deck below, tail still flying out behind him, no doubt. And he’d hopped on new, springy legs over to the much shallower fountain pond and set up residence. The thought leaped into my mind, “Yes, the risk of the morph is worth it. Always.” And I knew I would write this post today.

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Happy bee on phacelia.

Happy bee on phacelia.

The weather has been glorious here at MillHaven this past week. Some heat, some clouds, some booming thunder, and some blessed rain. A little bit of everything, and all of it good. Things are changing in the garden quickly at this time of year. Many summer flowers are brown and bent now, and my lawns, which I don’t water, are getting crispy. Things that were lush and juicy are going woody and dry.

Some plants are still waiting to show off their colors: asters, goldenrod, coneflower, and herbs. The bees are waiting for them. It is a time of dearth for them as the big bloom of summer flowers is over. I see honeybees drift over to flowers they don’t normally spend much time with, like the yellow-blooming cat’s ears. Today, I was inspected by several curious bees who were wondering if my blue garden dress was, perhaps, some large, exotic flower… Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Chopping "Freyja" out of the floor.

Chopping “Freyja” out of the floor.

I have three hives of bees right now, all stacked next to each other under a sun-rain roof in the upper part of our yard. The first hive I collected off a rosebush in Portland, and I call them the Rose Hive. They were a small but mighty bunch, and are now populated with thousands of new, young bees. No robber bee would think of setting so much as a toe on their entry board. The guards are always out, policing the perimeters.

My third hive, I cut out of the floorboards in someone’s home. It was a mess of a job and I got stung to pieces, but they are settling in well and are busy and focused at their door—just what you want to see. I named them the Freyja Hive after the Goddess of  War and Fertility, which I thought suited them to a Tee.

My second hive I named the Shanti Hive, as they have always been very quiet and gentle. And from the day I brought them home, I sensed that in addition to being quiet and gentle, they were just not quite right.

Now, I am very new to bees. I’ve only seen four hives in daily action in my life since I started with bees last year, but I have learned to trust my gut, and my gut said “Uh-oh.” While the Rose and Freyja hives gained in numbers and were always very intent on their work, the Shanti girls were distracted, wandering about on their entry board as though they weren’t quite sure what to do next. Sometimes no one would be attending the door at all, as if the guard bees were napping or playing bridge or something. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


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imgres I was in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago for a few days. I wrote most of this post while there, but held onto it and did not post. It seems especially timeworthy, in light of Luna and Dex:

Over the solstice, Carter’s daughter, Jessica, married a wonderful young man, David, in an informal, sweet ceremony. Southern California is about as different as it gets from my little town in Washington. I had forgotten what real traffic looked like. And wall-to-wall buildings and houses that go on forever. I was surprised to see an empty lot there, a bit of weedy wild amongst all the pavement and tamed plants.

In the course of six days there, Nature granted me two miraculous moments, unseen by anyone else in my company. The first was a hawk that catapulted down right next to our car as we were stopped at a red light. Its target was a large pigeon, who exploded in a mass of feathers as he was struck and knocked over. The whole thing happened so fast I only had a chance to blurt out “Did you see….?” before the hawk noticed the traffic and lurched back into the sky on muscle and wing. The pigeon leapt to its feet, fluffed itself, and flew off in the other direction. Lucky pigeon, I said to myself. Lucky, lucky pigeon. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Little Dex, head down.

Little Dex, head down.

The day began in a whirl of confusion. I was up early, planning carefully for a swarm removal an hour from my house. I had all my goodies packed in two large baskets: sheets, tools, carry boxes, gloves, bee jacket, honey water and far more, because you just never know what you will find when you arrive. Unless, of course, you have a brainstorm at the last minute to ask the person to send you a photo of the swarm.

Which she did. And the swarm of honey bees turned out to be a hornet nest hanging beneath her mailbox. I made a quick note to myself to always ask, from now on, for a photo, if they can get one easily.

Well, suddenly, I had about four unexpected hours on my hands. What to do? It was going to be ninety degrees by that afternoon. I was wanting something cool for dinner. So, I grabbed my large pot and put up some water to boil pasta for macaroni salad. When I dumped the pasta into the boiling water, I turned on my stove hood fan. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Ruby, at home.

Ruby, at home.

No doubt, you are aware that the world is a mess these days. From wars, to environmental catastrophe, to filthy politics, to gun violence, to domestic and animal abuse—you name it, we got it. I spend time pondering the why of our collective insanity, but not too much time, because pondering insanity is a waste of time. What I ponder more is how we might possibly get out of this madness and find some way back to collective health and more “humanness.” Because too many of us behave like jerks and nut balls instead of human beings, both on the public stage, and in our homes, as well.

These are a tiny assortment of the solutions I hear proposed to cure our ills: Energy independence, vote out the dopes and vote in the “good guys,” get rid of Obama, get rid of the Koch brothers, fully instigate carbon credit programs, raise/lower taxes on the rich/poor, buy an electric car, meditate, join Occupy, jail Occupy, implement permaculture everywhere right now. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Uncategorized


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The Melissa, Guardian of the Bee Garden, stands watch. Taku Skanskan smiles in the blue beyond.

I have been pondering this post for some time now. I always feel a great hesitancy when writing of sacred things, as I can become overwhelmed with a sense of inadequacy when trying to put the holy into words. But on this sunny morning when the bees are flying and the clouds are dancing like happy children, I would like to talk about a particular quality of the Holy One that has been making its presence known to me this glorious spring.

One of the words for the Great Mystery—or Wakan Tanka—in the Lakota language is Taku Skanskan. Roughly translated, it means “Something moving,” “That which moves,” or “Something sacred is in motion.” Skan moves all things, from the arrow in flight, to the stone falling from a rock face, to the seed that springs up from the soil. It is a force that drives the animate and inanimate, the embodied and the ethereal. Skan dwells in all motion, and it thoughts, which are a form of mental movement.

 For some reason, I have become acutely sensitized to the quality of motion or movement in my life these days. There are those deliberate movements in my days, when I put my hands to kneading bread or braiding my hair, and the quality of this kind of motion is serene and focused. Then, there are those moments when a glass crashes to the floor in the kitchen and Skan sends the shards flying out in all directions and my hands rise up, alarmed, and not of their own accord. Movement with a frantic, forceful feel to it.

 Outdoors, I sense the quality of the spring breezes in all their many forms, some gentle and caressing and some whirling and charged with energy. My clematis vine moves up and out each day, too slowly for me to see were I to sit and watch, but by morning, I notice the change as the vines continue to reach always toward light. New shoots, kissed by Skan, reach up and stretch, then turn their heads to the sun. I see that there is a turning of most of life toward the sun and toward the light, and that this motion is a tender, graceful one.

 The turnings of Earth and Sun and Moon I feel in a kind of kinesthetic sense, and it is a comforting motion, hinting to me of things that can be counted on. I feel thirst coming on, coming at me, slowly, or sometimes cold jumps on me fast, and these things moving on and in me are things that can be trusted, that do not change direction or timing on some mere whim.

These things like the cosmos in motion, sound, light, thirst, and minerals moving beneath the earth, and tides shifting shorelines—these are the real things that move. The stockmarket moves, too, and humankind collectively chooses to believe its movements are real and that they force us into or out of certain actions, but I do not believe such things are Skan.

 Up at the hive entrance, my bees move in ways that communicate small bits of their life to me. Some float in lazy-eights in front of the hive, orienting themselves to their new home before they fly off to forage. Returning foragers move quickly and in a straight line for the hive door, bringing along with them a certain devotion and single-minded purposefulness to their gait. By the door, guard bees twirl and touch the incomers. Their efficient and swift hands pat and stroke and brush many of the returning bees, so that no contamination enters the sacred inner space, which is alway in motion.

 My mornings begin slowly with little movement. I sit and meditate in bed, drink my coffee, gaze out the windows at the birds and flowers, and ponder my day. It is not until I start brushing my teeth and reach to pull on my pants that I feel my limbs speeding up and tightening.

Water in its many forms---always in motion.

Water in its many forms—always in motion.

This attention to motion, I think, could be a way of life. A different kind of contemplation, where I ask myself what is moving? What is the quality and emotion of that movement? There are so many ways to contemplate the face of God, but I had never before considered motion. The face perhaps smiling, pondering, frowning, moving muscles into expression.

 I wonder, too, if death is the cessation of movement, of motion, but realize instantly that this is not true. At death, something sacred remains in motion. The soul spirits away. The body moves toward the Earth and disperses all of its molecules back into Skan.

 Looking back on the past few years, I recognize that much of my life has been fraught with a sort of desperate motion: My thoughts, my body movements, my sleep, and the challenges that visited me. I have felt that life was racing at me, and that my movements needed to be defensive to keep from being struck by the force of too much life coming too fast.

 You can only look at a situation once you are outside of it. Otherwise, you are in the jar and can’t read the label affixed to it. Only now, as Mystery has provided a soft lull, and the choppy waters of my life have settled down to soft ripples can I understand better all the many, interrelated and never ceasing movements that fuel a life. Always in motion. Life always in motion. We move, and are moved upon. We direct movement, and are danced by the movement.

It is said that all we can know of Taku Skanskan is the blue if the sky, because the sky and its color belong to this Wakan being. In the Lakota Sundance ceremony, dancers start out “in the red” and as the deprivation of the dance moves them into an alternate consciousness, the eventually, hopefully, step “into the blue.” Welcome, Dancer, to the blue. All the rest is mystery. But for now, I am feeling touched by grace that a bit of this mystery has found its way into my awareness.  What is the quality of your life today? Fast, slow, frenetic, grief-laden, light, lilting? What motion will you put into the field of Skan today? What is the feeling of the energy that is moving you today?

Darter, in slow motion...

Darter, in slow motion…



Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


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