One day while zigzagging around the garden, working alone, thinning carrots, hoeing onions, and sowing more beans, I noticed a collection of bees, hundreds of them, forming a beard-shape swarm along the fence line. For months I’d seen them zip around as individuals, making solo forays to the apple blossoms and the foxglove’s speckled bells and then to the blue bachelor’s buttons and the orange calendula. But now they acted as one organism as they clung to our barbed wire fence until the apiarist arrived in his white attire and snipped the fence so that they poured into his hive. Living in a sparsely populated area, I often wonder what it feels like to belong to a throng, to behave in simultaneity, like a swarm of bees. Then one colorless midwinter day I attended a farmers’ meeting. Twenty of us sat in a circle, until a late attendee stepped in from the ongoing snow bearing a huge sack whose contents he spilled at our feet: The floor filled with hundreds of seed packets, each featuring vivid pictures of flowers—the cerulean cuff of morning glory, spires of purple lupine, deep hues of yellow zinnia and red-orange tithonia—and without thinking, in a simultaneous motion, we all zoomed to our knees.
About this Podcast
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.