MAY-MONTHmonth of swarming, singing, mating birdsthe bumble-bee monthmonth of the flowering lilac(and then my own birth-month.) As I jot this paragraph, I am out just after sunrise, and down towards the creek. The lights, perfumes, melodiesthe blue birds, grass birds and robins, in every directionthe noisy, vocal, natural concert. For undertones, a neighboring wood-pecker tapping his tree, and the distant clarion of chanticleer. Then the fresh earth smellsthe colors, the delicate drabs and thin blues of the perspective. The bright green of the grass has receivd an added tinge from the last two days mildness and moisture. How the sun silently mounts in the broad clear sky, on his days journey! How the warm beams bathe all, and come streaming kissingly and almost hot on my face.
A while since the croaking of the pond-frogs and the first white of the dog-wood blossoms. Now the golden dandelions in endless profusion, spotting the ground everywhere. The white cherry and pear-blowsthe wild violets, with their blue eyes looking up and saluting my feet, as I saunter the wood-edgethe rosy blush of budding apple-treesthe light-clear emerald hue of the wheat-fieldsthe darker green of the ryea warm elasticity pervading the airthe cedar-bushes profusely deckd with their little brown applesthe summer fully awakeningthe convocation of black birds, garrulous flocks of them, gathering on some tree, and making the hour and place noisy as I sit near.
Later.Nature marches in procession, in sections, like the corps of an army. All have done much for me, and still do. But for the last two days it has been the great wild bee, the humble-bee, or bumble, as the children call him. As I walk, or hobble, from the farm-house down to the creek, I traverse the before-mentiond lane, fenced by old rails, with many splits, splinters, breaks, holes, &c., the choice habitat of those crooning, hairy insects. Up and down and by and between these rails, they swarm and dart and fly in countless myriads. As I wend slowly along, I am often accompanied with a moving cloud of them. They play a leading part in my morning, midday or sunset rambles, and often dominate the landscape in a way I never before thought offill the long lane, not by scores or hundreds only, but by thousands. Large and vivacious and swift, with wonderful momentum and a loud swelling perpetual hum, varied now and then by something almost like a shriek, they dart to and fro, in rapid flashes, chasing each other, and (little things as they are,) conveying to me a new and pronouncd sense of strength, beauty, vitality and movement. Are they in their mating season? or what is the meaning of this plenitude, swiftness, eagerness, display? As I walkd, I thought I was followd by a particular swarm, but upon observation I saw that it was a rapid succession of changing swarms, one after another.
As I write, I am seated under a big wild-cherry treethe warm day temperd by partial clouds and a fresh breeze, neither too heavy nor lightand here I sit long and long, envelopd in the deep musical drone of these bees, flitting, balancing, darting to and fro about me by hundredsbig fellows with light yellow jackets, great glistening swelling bodies, stumpy heads and gauzy wingshumming their perpetual rich mellow boom. (Is there not a hint in it for a musical composition, of which it should be the back-ground? some bumble-bee symphony?) How it all nourishes, lulls me, in the way most needed; the open air, the rye-fields, the apple orchards. The last two days have been faultless in sun, breeze, temperature and everything; never two more perfect days, and I have enjoyd them wonderfully. My health is somewhat better, and my spirit at peace. (Yet the anniversary of the saddest loss and sorrow of my life is close at hand.)
Another jotting, another perfect day: forenoon, from 7 to 9, two hours envelopd in sound of bumble-bees and bird-music. Down in the apple-trees and in a neighboring cedar were three or four russet-backd thrushes, each singing his best, and roulading in ways I never heard surpassd. Two hours I abandon myself to hearing them, and indolently absorbing the scene. Almost every bird I notice has a special time in the yearsometimes limited to a few dayswhen it sings its best; and now is the period of these russet-backs. Meanwhile, up and down the lane, the darting, droning, musical bumble-bees. A great swarm again for my entourage as I return home, moving along with me as before.
As I write this, two or three weeks later, I am sitting near the brook under a tulip tree, 70 feet high, thick with the fresh verdure of its young maturitya beautiful objectevery branch, every leaf perfect. From top to bottom, seeking the sweet juice in the blossoms, it swarms with myriads of these wild bees, whose loud and steady humming makes an undertone to the whole, and to my mood and the hour. All of which I will bring to a close by extracting the following verses from Henry A. Beerss little volume:
As I lay yonder in tall grass
A drunken bumble-bee went past
Delirious with honey toddy.
The golden sash about his body
Scarce kept it in his swollen belly
Distent with honeysuckle jelly.
Rose liquor and the sweet-pea wine
Had filld his soul with song divine;
Deep had he drunk the warm night through,
His hairy thighs were wet with dew.
Full many an antic he had playd
While the world went round through sleep and shade.