In the spring of 2017, I hosted a bee event for all of the members of the newly minted Community Supported Bee (CSB) Honey Co-Op right here on the meadow between the house and the fenced yard that contained ten beehives and fruit trees. Forager Laura Silverman of The Outside Institute was here and offered a naturalist tour of the property in her stunning yellow jumpsuit. Laura was joined in situ by farmer and environmentalist Wes Gillingham, and together they identified plants and trees and natural marvels. Laura followed the hike by stunning us with libations of her own making. The idea was to connect everyone with the landscape the bees use to forage and to be a little bit more "together" with the bees and nature.
There was another part of the day, as well. But to tell you this, I have to back up for a second. I met Pastor Dora Odarenko at the Catskill Brewery one evening (in the late fall or early winter) as she picked up her CSA share of vegetables inside the brewery's front hall. A CSA, for those of you unfamiliar, is Community Supported Agriculture, a popular farm-to-consumer program whereby the supporters provide "seed money" to the farmer, and the farmer returns the investment with boxes from their harvests. The CSB is a bit of a riff off of the CSA, as we are a community supporting bees and, yes, we share the harvest. It occurs to me now that meeting Dora at the CSA pick up and having her as a member of the CSB all these years is kismet of some sort. What's more, in our first conversation, Dora told me she was a Pastor and I blurted out "Then you should come and bless the bees!" It was a harebrained idea, the kind I am known for, more or less. But if I'm being honest, it's one of my better traits. You do something that is uniquely you and I like to connect your you to something somehow, somewhere. This time it was bees. Anyway, it turned out to be a good idea. Dora's blessing was spirited, nature-filled, appreciative and memorable. The bees have been healthy and productive and connecting with Dora, her gifts and all the interesting conversations I have had with her over the years -- some in person and some on email -- have been a plus in the win column of life.
Just recently, while discussing her honey harvest delivery this year, Dora and I got to discussing poetry. I have been reading a lot of poetry this year. I find it calming. Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver have been good friends who connect me with nature and add a level of sanity and understanding that has been sorely needed. In our discussion, Dora mentioned that she had been writing poetry, quite seriously this year. And, in the way that she came to bless the bees, she is now blessing this blog with her poetry. It's about the bees, the blessing and it captures the essence of the backstory you now have. Those of you who were there will feel it. I did. Those of you who were not, might also. I hope so.
Thank you for your gifts, Dora.
xoxo Farm Girl | Dana
Liturgy on Dana’s Hillside (2017)
Laughing, somewhat unsteady
as the hill slopes down,
adjusting now to holy time
we process congratulatory
towards the hives,
well-smoked by now.
I bless the hives and those in charge
who fence off bears so crops can thrive,
I bless our hostess and her care,
Mostly I bless those gathered here
who love a fellowship with bees.
No noblesse here, quirky oblige.
Beyond the hives’ dense sweetness
that our taste celebrates,
the hour’s grace has whet our thirst
to aid the bees’ precarious largesse.
Pastor Dora J. Odarenko