Sleeping Bees


If you drive from Portland, through the Columbia River Gorge, towards Idaho or Wyoming, you will see tons of sunflowers guiding you along the highways. Native sunflowers, some consider weeds now, almost pull you over the Rockies towards the prairies of North America. That is one way to look at it, as I choose to do so. I guess that others pragmatically see the seeds of these flowers getting stuck in the wheels of our vehicles, being flicked hither and thither as we drive about the place. Regardless of all of this, at least there is this caveat. It appears as though these blooms offer a soft resting place for the bees that we need so much. And if you are worried about these little guys in the image, we touched one, just to be sure, and it was alive. They were all in a very deep, deep sleep.
It was the kind of sleep I have been searching for during the last few years of my illness. It reminded me of the times when I could enjoy sleeping outside, under the stars, in the arid or mountainous areas of Oregon and Washington. Not afraid of my strength, but in a mood to cherish it. I no longer have that gift. Instead, I instinctively spend every moment looking over my shoulder—as all injured animals do.
That night the train pounded past our cabin at the campground, chugging up the other side of the small canyon and I rolled around outside, on a bench, in a sleeping bag. My husband sleeping soundly inside. At home, I usually use my garden to help me sleep, image by image, task by task, otherwise I focus on the physical pains. I can easily tire and fall asleep if I think about my garden. But that night, I thought only about the bees, tucked away into flower blooms only a few yards away.
My own garden seemed like a far off and unbelievable place—a dream. The bees sleeping in flowers was real at that moment and the image in my mind only intensified that feeling of the possible that only a child can have. And it felt magical. Shooting stars rolled by and I felt more free than I have felt in years, inside my experience, horrible as it may sometimes feel. I easily fell asleep then, like a child lost and not afraid in a wilderness. I wonder though now what bees dream, if they do.

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