BBefore I build a wall I would ask to know
What I walled up or walled up
And who I like to offend. . .
He repeats: “Good fences make good neighbors.
This week, as previously mentioned, the Chicken Foot Tribe’s ties were severed when a longtime friend Rosemary Hallin left the peninsula after 15 years for a new home near her family in St. Louis. We forgive her for leaving, but damn it, this change is hard to swallow. Friendships that develop over time cannot be easily replaced, as those of us of a certain age know. Some of us still have buds since elementary school; friends who sat with us during recess while we wrote “I will not speak in class” 100 times on the board. Friendships that drag on over decades are impossible to replace.
It is also true that sometimes the people we grew up with become distant. This classy clown might not be so charming at 70, especially if no emotional learning has taken place. The circumstances of life leave their mark. I know it’s not pleasant to say, but often times a period of suffering can temper a personality into a new, more pleasant form; it can add a certain humility that was not there at the start; can soften the edges of a charismatic but overly aggressive narcissism into something nicer, more forgiving.
It is also not so easy to make friends as you get older. Although this pandemic has taught us a few tricks of the trade. The Sydney and Nyel Stevens Friday Night Lounges are open again; and the nucleus of this small group has all the characteristics of a truly tight-knit family. Sturges Dorrance, who just lost his wife, Pam – “the love of my life for 60 years” – introduced her (one in four) daughter Meredith to last week’s rally. The usual suspects were there passing their usual plates of snack foods as neighbor Tucker Wachsmuth began his highly anticipated ‘show and tell’ – this week a vintage three-glass milkshake mixer from Hamilton Beach.
Being for the most part from a certain era we have ooh and aah, we all remembering those icy metal glasses where part of the shake waited (the other poured into a glass) while the metal frosted outside . Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry – everyone has their favorites. (Tip: Tucker says the secret to a good milkshake is to keep the milk at a temperature just before the ice crystals form so that it mixes properly with the ice cream.) I am very grateful for these. links and others.
In other “B” stories, my view of the bay was completely obscured by Ceanothus (California Lilac) and an absolutely blooming white climbing rugosa rose. I look forward to this flourishing windfall each year to assess the general health of our bees on the peninsula. Over time the buzz decreased with a different ratio of bees: fewer honey bees and more (as Kathleen Sayce puts it) “worker bumblebees, probably Bombus Vosnesenski, yellow-faced bumblebee.
We can help bees by taking some important steps. The most important thing is probably not to use pesticides. (It’s also so much healthier for our four-legged dogs, in particular, who can absorb these poisons through their pads just by running.) There are plenty of organic pest control substitutes out there, and any master gardener on either side. from the river can help with suggestions.
The second most important is to fill our gardens with plants that attract and feed bees. Most seed companies have bee-friendly options. (Good mail order picks: Eden: tinyurl.com/2ddudb3n; American Meadows tinyurl.com/t4frajf5; Territorial tinyurl.com/y4nbmyv4.) Bees love bright colors and scents and there are many varieties suitable for the peninsula that meet these requirements.
At flowering time, I like to get up close and watch these little artists from the pollen collection frantically sway, scramble and snuggle up in the range of flowers now in full glory. It makes me extremely happy – I feel like I am doing something (albeit a small one) to help the planet.
A friend from Ocean Park has witnessed a swarm of stray bees that have parted from a neighbor’s hive and are apparently looking for a home. It prompted me to think about beekeeping, something I experienced with Richard Spiegel, a true apiary expert, on the Big Island. Richard’s bees had a specialty: the kiawe (key-av-ee) honey. We moved the bees from grove to grove around the island to ensure that only the kiawe pollen was collected by our industrious workers, making it a beautiful white honey that had an unusually long shelf life. (It was slow to crystallize in containers.) Unfortunately, the thorny but fragrant kiawe is now considered an invasive species, probably introduced to the islands around 1828.
Spinning the supers to extract the honey was my favorite part of the harvest season as bees flocked around us and the sweet smell of honey was everywhere. We have all become mesmerized, mesmerized by the buzz, the scent, the stickiness of honey on our equipment, our hands, our clothes.
We spoke to several experts on our coast to ask them which honey-producing bees might be the most viable here, as they have to go through a long, cold and wet winter. This discussion needs to be continued, but in the meantime I dig up my smoker and mesh headgear.
And, finally, “B” is for the limits. Anyone who has purchased property on the Peninsula in the past two decades knows the recurring issues with establishing property lines. In the past, limits were decidedly laissez-faire. When my family bought our first cabin in Nahcotta, we found out that the next door neighbor had built his garage in the back corner of our property. The ankle was visible, but… well. To clean up the property during escrow, we sold him a pie-shaped piece of our land; but not before they had also cut down several trees that were in fact on the county right-of-way. Another deplorable “well …”
Frost said fences make good neighbors, and I would like to add, “Make sure you have your corner pegs right before you build one.” The recent sales boom overwhelmed most land surveyors in the county, but I managed to get Jeff Sterling on the calendar for six weeks, and finally our time has come. Jeff and his assistant Steve came up with surveying tools – flags, markers, tripod, level, machete, walkie talkies, metal detector, safety cones, laser distance reader, etc. – and started their work. It was a fascinating high-tech treasure hunt. And, there you go, my metal marker stakes – placed by Karl Walter Ferrier, lawyer and surveyor, who knows when – had been in the ground the entire time. But that apparently hadn’t stopped anyone from putting up fences wherever they wanted.
I owe my neighbor to the northwest a foot at the beginning of our fence, and she owes me about two feet at the other end. On the south side, my neighbor’s fence protrudes six inches from my property. But the main problem is an old fence in my lower yard, which is six to eight feet away. I’m not going to complain about a foot or two, but eight feet is another story.
I hope my summer dive into “B” -landia can inspire others to support bees. I also intend to bond more closely with my friends and neighbors; and establish more precise boundaries (and fences). It is good to know the limits of things, both emotional and physical.