Signs of Life (aka silver linings amid a pandemic)

Most traumatic events in our world leave fall-out in their wake. Emotional events leave us trying to clean up the debris for years to come. Most of us know that we never, ever come away clean.  Other traumatic events do the same. There will undoubtedly be ramifications from this pandemic that are felt near and far, tendrils that will snake through the towns and cities across the globe touching us all in one way or another. 

We’ve all been experiencing changes in our own little worlds during this pandemic. One change that we’ve embraced in our home is the coming together of a neighborhood. We have seen our neighbors walk the streets seeking some sort of change of scenery, or a small amount of human contact-even if it IS from a distance.  As people, we thrive on some amount of contact, whether it’s a voice in the phone or a shout across a driveway.  We want- we NEED- some signs of life.

While we aren’t in the middle of nuclear fallout, it certainly feels like it. Today  when we see a neighbor walking along our road our first instinct is to reach out with a wave and shout, and we find ourselves laughing and chatting across the pavement and the grasses, relieved that there is someone out there to talk to OTHER than the people we’ve been imprisoned with for 6 months. 

We need signs of life. 

In our search for life, we have discovered wonderful and magical things about the people that live in the houses near ours.  Had it not been for this global event, we could possibly have gone on forever with many wonderful surprises hidden from us. 

My surprise  today was wrapped inside a beautiful woman named  Linda.  She lives in cul-de-sac next to our house, and in fact we can see her front door from across our lot.  We chatted with her and her husband one day last week, and we discovered that she raises bees.  She has a beehive that is flourishing in her backyard! She has always been interested in bees, as her son and his wife have been keeping hives for years.  It was during the pandemic when our local university offered a free online course on bee hives that she decided to dive right in. Her hive was delivered and the bees introduced to their new home in the early spring.  She offered to give me a tour the next day, as she was scheduled for the ten day inspection of the hive. 

I was thrilled!  I am also fascinated by bees and have always secretly wanted a hive. I also know that a few more of our neighbors would love this experience, and contacted them after Linda encouraged me to bring some friends. I wanted to invite only those that have been part of our “quaren-team”, so as not to break any pandemic protocol. 

We gathered in her backyard, which is beautifully landscaped to mirror an English Cottage Garden. It is laden with flowers such as flox, petunias, purple coneflower, hollyhocks, blue globe thistle and cosmos, just to name a few. She gave us an animated  history of her journey and the life of honeybees. It was wonderful.  She then handed us hats with netting that she has fashioned for her bee loving guests. We had already been instructed to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, and the netted hat would complete our bee proof ensemble. 

She led us to the back corner of the garden, and tucked behind the bee balm and the zucchini plants was a beautiful brown hive.  You could see the entrance to the hive in the lower right corner, and we watched, enthralled, as she unwrapped the hive like an onion- one layer at a time.  

The following shots will walk you through our field trip to the beehive. You will see the vertically stacked drawers of the hive (supers)  that house about ten hanging frames per super. Typically there is a screen called a queen excluder between supers, to keep the queen in the brooding box which should be on the bottom.  Our hive had the screen between the top layer and the middle layer, so many of the frames in the middle super and the bottom super had both honey combs for honey and combs for the broods.  There is so much more to learn and more to share, but I think I’ll simply share pictures so that you can be a part of today’s successful search for signs of life.  These magical discoveries in my own neighborhood have helped me heal amid this traumatic event...even if for a moment.

Linda, our extraordinary bee lady.

This is what the queen arrives in. She has to eat her way out of the end of the box, which Linda put marshmallows in.

What have you done today in your search for signs of life?


Finding wonder in the (confined) world around me.

Well it’s April 14th, day #whothehellknows for the shelter-in-place, hard/soft lockdown, beach closures, water closures and no one leaves their home orders. We are (mostly) all following the requests that the government has made to keep the people on this island safe, healthy and alive.  However, because there are those who just don’t GET IT, the lockdowns never seem to end, and only become more and more confining.

Of course, there are always those few naughty kids who ruin recess for everyone, and as a retired teacher I sincerely apologize for all the times I allowed that to happen. I will admit that towards the end of my career I realized that it really WASN’T fair or smart to expect that the fidgety, restless and impulsive children would really understand why the whole class was punished, and I found other ways to “help” the challenging student figure out why he needed to learn to control his behavior. 

It doesn’t work when there’s a pandemic.

So, since I haven’t been able to walk the beaches to look for treasure and to ease my mind and my soul, I have revisited the tour I took of the Queen’s Botanical Gardens here in Grand Cayman.

I visited one day on my own and was thrilled and shocked to discover amazing beauty along the many paths in the Gardens.  So, I am going to share these images in the hopes that it gives you a brief moment of pleasure.

I think that this “great pause” is one that for me, is giving me even more reason to find things to be happy about each day. I am using this time to really look around me and enjoy the wonder of my world. I hope that you are able to find moments of joy throughout your days.

If you try very hard, you might be able to hear the parrots as they squawked in the trees. 

I hope you can share with me your moments of joy today. #BeSafe #StayHome