Tuesday, October 26, 2010
10.22 A Buzz on My Thumb
More adventures with my little friends. I’ve been sorry to see the abundance of summer life die off this time of year. I leave a pair of thick, rubberized garden gloves on the front porch under a chair. The weather gets colder. I do no outdoor work for several days. The sun comes out. But the wind is strong on a Friday afternoon, and since we are going away the next day I want to pick any tomatoes with enough red on them to make it possible for them to ripen on a window sill before we go. It may soon get too cold for the remaining fruit. I may be running out of time. So I pick up my gloves, mostly because my hands are cold, and go out to the veggie garden to pull off cherry tomatoes and hopefully something bigger.
As I work there’s this odd sensation in my left hand. It’s like a nervous tick, or the slight spasm of an overstressed muscle… in a funny place, though. The surface of the large knuckle on my left thumb. A nerve twitch? A muscle spasm – on the edge of my thumb?
I go into denial. Busy. Not really feeling anything. Sometimes you imagine a mosquito on your arm or leg because you know they’re around. You have just felt them; you have just killed one. You skin pickles, it writhes with imagined insect presence. Imagined ants crawling on your stomach and back. Sitting on Crane Beach when the greenhead flies arrive. Who has not suffered imaginary (or real) insect attacks? … Let’s not go there.
I need both hands to pick the tomatoes. Hold the branch with one hand, detach with the other, drop the little red ball into the bowl. But I feel it again. Ignore it. Feel it again.
A light turns on. Oh, damn. Something inside my glove? I rip the glove off my left hand. Shake it hard. Something seems to happen. But it happens fast, and I can’t really see what.
I look on the ground in front of me. I look at the front of my sweatshirt. I shake the glove again, but now I’m convinced something was moving in there and I simply refuse to put it back on. I drop the glove in the corner of the container, among the little red tomatoes, and go back to picking. My eye falls on a dark spot on my shoulder.
It’s a bee.
I brush it off reflexively.
…So that’s what the buzz of a bee feels like on your skin. The tactile equivalent of the buzz, the shaking to life of the half-frozen honey bee. What it’s like to have a bee, warming back to life after too much cold, buzz itself to life on your skin.
I don’t know if the bee made it back to the land of living sufficiently to find his way to winter quarters’ warmth within the hive before the cold wind of late afternoon slowed his motor a final time. But I kind of hope that he did.