The last of the lavender in our garden is still attracting the last of the summer bee activity. This pleases Polly, who loves to sit on kitchen window sill and hurl herself at the glass every time a bee flies nearby. It doesn’t please Phoebus, who seems to have had a brief fit of bee-related terror and for a week refused point blank to cross the patio, where the lavender and bees reside. This wouldn’t matter if it weren’t for the fact that our house only has one door — and the door opens onto the patio… Poor Phoebs. However, the terror passed off as suddenly and unexpectedly as it arose and now all is harmonious again.
But in the meantime I was reminded of another bee encounter: one with a textile connection. It happened some 15 or more years ago when we were living in New Jersey. I was in Manhattan and walking down Sixth Avenue — I don’t remember what I had been doing but I suspect I was heading for the PATH station at 23rd & 6th — when I passed a florist’s shop with loads of flowers outside in a glorious display.
I happened to be walking just behind a young woman in a bright pink linen jacket and we were going at about the same pace. As we walked through the floral display outside the shop a bee mistook her jacket for an alluring flower and landed on her back. We both walked on and away from the flowers, but the bee didn’t cotton to his mistake and carried on investigating the jacket. By the end of the block I was still keeping pace with the jacket-wearer and had watched the bee crawl up almost to her hair.
I started to get a bit worried. Suppose the woman was allergic to bee stings? She might feel a tickle on her neck from the bee, try to brush it away, get stung and die. And I could have prevented it! Yes, I am prone to catastrophising… but it was a plausible scenario in the circumstances… I was tempted just to reach out and brush the bee away myself, but New Yorkers are a jumpy people, so I thought a verbal warning was in order.
By the time we were halfway down the next block, I had managed to shake off enough of my British reserve to quicken my pace and draw level with pink-jacketed woman. “Excuse me, but I wanted to let you know that there’s a bee crawling up your jacket and if you just turn…”
I didn’t finish my sentence and the woman didn’t break stride. Quick as a flash she stripped off her jacket and flung it straight in the wire litter bin at the side of the road. She was profuse in her thanks for my bee alert as she carried on walking. While I was left standing, staring open-mouthed at the sight of this beautiful jacket on top of a pile of junk food wrappers and other street debris.
No, I didn’t fish it out. I rather regret that now, but at the time I was too stunned to act. To be honest, I am still fairly stunned — after all, here I am recalling a single bee from more than 15 years ago — and if the story has a moral I am not quite sure what it is. The simple observations that (1) unlike red wine stains, bees can fly away and (2) a linen jacket typically has a higher price tag than a burger may be enough for now, though I’m guessing you spotted those points already.
Back in 2013, I had a lovely day yesterday with four more new weavers. And I’m nearly at the end of the scarf warp on the Megado and have started winding a new warp for the Delta. I’ve finalised the 8-shaft weaving draft I’m going to use: more on that another day.