221 Following











The Beekeeper


I was recently in Bulgaria, feeding a cat at a park bench, before taking a bus through Serbia; Hungary, Slovakia, Poland; Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. That information is sort of irrelevant, except that it was a long way. 


A couple of hours before I was due to leave a couple sat at the bench next to mine. As it is both my habit and that of Bulgarians generally too, we struck up a conversation, or rather the woman and I did:

 "Stanislav does not speak much English," she said, gesturing at her husband.

 "He's very patient;" I said. After all, we had been speaking for about forty five minutes.

  "Yes, he's the patient one," she giggled, "not me! He's a beekeeper you know," she added.

   "I see," I said.

  "He says you have to be very, very patient when working with bees. If not they get angry, and then..." she shrugged and made a vague gesture in the air with her left hand, opening it to the sky.


Nature is patient. There are moments in my forest when the true meaning of calmness becomes very clear, and in the study of trees it is us the excitable ones. Yet if we measure communication in different ways, the vocabulary of trees is far more extensive than ours. We may know around a thousand words at best, but trees can emit up to three thousand different chemicals, creating different fragrances and aromas, for a wide variety of reasons. Trees warn each other of attack, and when caterpillars start on the leaves of a tree it will emit chemicals that attract wasps from far and wide. These wasps are remarkably efficient at neutralising the caterpillars, thus perhaps even saving the tree.


Stanislav the beekeeper was indeed almost zenlike in his calmness. Trees, allies of wasps, too, remain calm, and have that zen quality in their quiet repose



in the forest

the language of nature speaks

in different ways

under the shade of leaves

I watch the roots grow, slowly