Course Corrections

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A hen dies in the night, swift and unexpected; you find her soft, small corpse under the coop, head tucked beneath one red-brown wing. What silent malady had she concealed--or had you, ignorant and way beyond your depth, failed to note in time?

The new hive starts out great, the bees busting out the comb and brood, filling their allotted space in record time. You give them more, and they greedily accept. The rains have become myriads of blooms, which they happily convert to wax and eggs, filling up the hive again. Your day job keeps you from giving them more room right away, and when you get home, it's too late. A quick glance through the hive window shows they couldn't wait, or wouldn't, and have swarmed--two thirds gone, with the precious queen, to seek out greener pastures. The forlorn remainders dot the creamy comb, dark bodies stark against its pale geometry.

The apricot in March looks like a snow globe, sparkly frosted petals dotting every twig on every branch, and you imagine fruit, gallon upon gallon, for jam and pie and tarts and--best of all--just eating out of hand, exquisite smell entwined with peerless taste, and your heart lifts. Who doesn't love fresh apricots? Then El Niño rails and blows at the wrong time, shattering the snow globe. There is no fruit set, despite the promise of the flowering.

Somehow, though, there are still eggs aplenty. The jilted bees have raised a brand-new queen, and are rapidly rebuilding. There's even a new swarm, nestled in an empty hive and making it a home. And this year there are loquats, and blueberries, and blackberries gone berserk with fruit. It may not be exactly as you'd planned, but it is enough--and so much more.

With a Perspective, I’m Peggy Hansen.


Peggy Hansen is an artist, photographer and organic farmer. She lives in Santa Cruz County.