We go to the farmer’s market every Saturday we can, both the small one in our town and the bigger one in Wabash. What I don’t grow myself, we supplement from the local farmers and we’ve made friends there with many of the vendors. We did that again this morning, including breakfast at our favorite dive and came home to spend a quiet Saturday working in the yard.
Without going into too much detail, the husbot has been in conflict with a young man who lives in a rental house 2 doors down from us since early in the summer. Rob said something about the way he was skulking in our alley the day after there had been a police chase down it, the man overheard Rob and took serious offense to a comment Rob didn’t mean for him to even hear. The man continued to confront Rob when he saw him and they exchanged heated words and he glared at us when we happened to see him in town, usually riding by on his bicycle. We nicknamed him Shitbird and I advised Rob to just ignore him entirely. Rob’s anger nowhere near matched Shitbird’s and it seemed unwise to engage him or antagonize him, so we moved on but felt uneasy about having someone 2 doors down who didn’t care for us. We live in a small town — it’s impossible to avoid people entirely.
We were standing in the center of the back yard with the gate to the alley open and surprisingly, Shitbird appeared in the gate and asked to talk to Rob. My anger flared because he was in my yard uninvited and I thought he was going to cause another confrontation. I told him to get out of my yard, to which he asked to speak to Rob and said, “I just want to apologize.”
Rob approached him and they spoke for a bit. Turns out his name is Larry and we won’t call him Shitbird anymore. Larry apologized to Rob for his behavior and said that his response was uncalled for and not who he was. He said the bad blood between them had been weighing on him and his wife encouraged him to speak to Rob. He even apologized to me, though he had nothing to apologize to me for. Rob accepted his apology, they shook hands and we went from having an uneasy feeling about a stranger 2 doors down to having a neighbor again.
Now.. I’m a cynic. You can’t work in my field without being one. I don’t believe immediately that things are what they seem and keep an exit available in case things go bad. I stood a good distance away from the two of them and kept my hand on my phone at first, not sure Larry wasn’t luring Rob into being close enough to punch. He didn’t and I was glad to be wrong. I wondered to Rob later if the 5 police cars we saw at his house a few days ago had anything to do with this exchange. Whether this was one of the steps in an AA or NA program where you have to make amends with people as part of your work. Whatever his motivation, it was good. It set the tone for the day for us and lightened our spirits. The conflict had been weighing on us, too.
Shortly after that exchange, Rob rescued a bumble bee.
He noticed the bee fall from it’s flight path and land on the deck, then struggle to right itself again. He went over to look and when he realized she was still alive, decided to try to help. We mixed some sugar into water in a very small dish and Rob gently picked her up. She crawled on him immediately and he coaxed her to drink the sugar water, assuming she was just exhausted, far from her hive and not able to find enough nectar in the cooling temperatures and decreasing flower options available to her. We didn’t add in enough sugar at first, so it took a little longer than it should’ve, but that gave us time to marvel at her behavior (she waggled her abdomen to warm herself and cleaned herself with her middle legs) and watch the tiniest pink tongue we’ve ever seen come out of her proboscis as she drank the sugar water.
I’m afraid of bees, so I tried to be brave but watched a lot from the other side of the screen door.
Eventually, once we got enough sugar into her water, she perked up, buzzed a little warm up path along Rob’s arm and took off. We watched her fly away, loop around the deck once and head for the tall pine trees in the neighbor’s yard. Rob joked that he was a beecraft carrier, letting her refuel and then offering a platform from which she could take off.
It was a small thing, but another moment of joy in my Saturday. I am afraid of bees, but am also a gardener and kitchen witch and thank them for their work whenever I see them. I’ve gotten brave enough that if they are busy doing their work, I can stay nearby doing mine and co-exist without running away in fear. They are the reason I have harvests at all and I know they are important. I plant all the flowers I do with bees in mind, hoping they’ll come to my yard frequently. Helping one fuzzy bumble bee find the strength to head home feels very rewarding.
My work life has been incredibly difficult the past couple of weeks. I’ve been surrounded by angry, semi-anonymous parents who feel like screaming and threatening is going to get them what they want for their student instead of letting me do my job. Students have been, as usual, telling their parents they’ve done everything right and we’ve done nothing, even though we weren’t even aware there was an issue. It’s been hard to go to work, let alone do my job. I needed the lightness and lift that came from forgiveness and kindness to creatures and people around me more than I even realized. I was feeling so heavy, so weighed down with what work means for me lately that my natural cynic had turned even darker, which I don’t like. Cynicism keeps me sharp, but can also pull me down into a dark place I do not want to stay in.
Sometimes you just need to offer some grace to the world where you can, even if you are not being given any by others. It can be the only armor you have.
We bought a half bushel of squash to last us through the autumn. The weather has cooled and given us that cozy feeling that Winter Finding/Mabon/autumn equinox should have. The lawn got mowed, the deck got decluttered and the yard work got done. We ended the day with a delicious grilled dinner and a fire in the fire pit complete with toasted marshmallows under a bright waxing gibbous moon just a few days from full. We found peace and kindness in unexpected places. It was a good day and I hope, a harbinger of what the autumn has in store for us.