Monday, March 17, 2014

Part Nine: The Birds, The Bees ... And The Honey

As I stated in his first post, once weekly I plan to feature a guest writer, my husband. Since we have no children, he has been painstakingly writing down the stories of his childhood to share them with his then 9 year old niece. I wanted her to know what kind of childhood her beloved Uncle was able to enjoy. While enjoying them myself I thought these are so much fun to read, why not share them? So here are the short missives of his memories of growing up in wilds of Florida during the 1950's and 1960's. They're packed with misadventures, romance, and all the confusing things that can happen in our youth. Even though his hometown of Jacksonville is a big city with over a million residents now, during his childhood it was several small communities surrounded by countryside.

This is his story.

(Please note: None of the photos in this post are from our files. They are all from the internet.)

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The Birds, The Bees ... And The Honey
by Steven R. Hudson

On a warm summer morning we boys, that being Ray, Jackie, Peanut and I,
were walking the trail from Sherwood Forest toward the Mealer house carrying bundles of Dog Fennel stalks we had cut to make a tepee. De-limbed Maple saplings had already been stacked at Ray and Jackie's backyard to make the tepee frame. The Dog Fennel stalks, feathery and green and wreaking of Chlorophyll, would be woven over the frame of Maple to form the walls of our "Injun" dwelling.

Along this path stood an old Bald Cypress. The tree was one that could not help but be noticed, standing alone now on dry ground that was once a shallow wetland and somehow having avoided the saws that felled it's companions. Like all members of it's kind, it was swollen at the
base with many "Cypress Knees" thrusting from the ground nearby. Something was different as we approached the tree this day. A steady buzzing sound from the tree caught our attention causing us to drop our bundles and investigate. There was a hole about six inches wide at the tree's base and a steady stream of Honey Bees flying in and out of the opening. We passed by this tree many times a week on our way to the forest and were surprised that the bees had escaped our notice until now. Being of an age famous for short attention spans, we forgot about tepee construction and set about investigating the beehive. 

The first painful lesson learned was that Honey Bees get highly irritated when you get too near their honey store. Pulling their barbed stingers from our tender young flesh convinced us that another approach was needed. Now it seems that at least one of us brigands had heard that smoke was like a drug to bees. Smoke would calm them, making them docile enough so that we might rob their honey supply without being stung. We began gathering some dry sticks and enough tender to make a small fire near the hive opening and dry leaves would make plenty of smoke to soothe the hive's protectors. A long sapling was cut and used to push the sticks and tender up to the opening which was less than a foot from ground level. Dried grass was wrapped around the pole's tip and lit to make a long "match" to get the sticks and tender burning. This actually worked as smoke drifted up and into the opening. We became emboldened and moved closer, throwing more sticks and leaves on the fire and fanning the smoke into the opening with a palmetto frond. The bees seemed confused and crawled around the opening, no longer flying aggressively toward us. Which of us would be brave (crazy) enough to reach in that opening and pull out the honey comb with it's sweet treasure?

If Peanut was known for anything it was impulsiveness. If you wished to see him do something risky or just plain stupid,  just dare him to do it. So we dared him and straight away, he reached into the hive opening, felt around for a moment, then pulled out a comb a foot long and dripping with honey. Jackie rushed home to fetch a bucket for the honey comb. The bucket was soon filled and raid over, we retired to a shady spot to enjoy our spoils. We cut the comb open and lapped up the honey like thirsty dogs. It was so sweet and delicious and, like dogs, we ate too much and got sick. The bees had gotten their revenge.

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A Special Note For Today:
In case my readers haven't noticed,
I'm not much into celebrating holidays.
However, March 17th is a special day for us
because on this day 35 years ago
Sweetie and I had our First Date.
(And, yes, I wore green that day.) :)
We've been together as a couple ever since.
We always, always find some way to celebrate this day.
For everyone else, I hope your day is special too.
Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Saint Patty's Day!


Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary of your first date!
This was a great story. I can remember being easily distracted as a kid, too. That Peanut was brave reaching in for the honey!!!

Wishing you both a nice evening.

Simply Linda said...

Happy 1st date Anniversary! I love reading Steve's stories..thanks for the giggles and smiles. Blessings

Monkeywrangler said...

Congrats on your anniversary, Sparky! May you both enjoy many more anniversaries together.

Carol B. said...

That is a good story. I love it.
Happy Anniversary! That's great the two of you can still celebrate this milestone in your lives. After being married to my hubby for 48 yrs. he couldn't tell you when we had our first date, but I'm thankful he always remembers our wedding anniversary and still loves me.
God bless you both.

Sparky said...

Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments! Your thoughts warm my heart.
God bless. ~:)

Jackie said...

As a former beekeeper's daughter, I have to smile as I read this.
I admire anyone who will reach into a beehive to attain the honey-filled comb.
Lovely story....