The Day the Bumblebees Died


Bumblebee day.

The light at the playground was orange today. I don’t know which of Northern California’s million fires is filtering our rare summer sunshine, but the air feels just like how I remember the Oakland Hills fire almost twenty years ago. The light is exactly as it was then: everything is surrounded by weird outlines the color of rotting persimmons, filled in with that “burnt umber” from the crayon box.

It’s scary.

I’m involuntarily put into mind of the things that I can’t fix. Disasters that I can’t protect my baby — my little girl — from. I can teach her to be independent and smart, I can teach her self-defense. I can probably teach her how to stay pretty safe from the threats this world brings forth in the shapes of individual people.

But fire? Earthquake? Tornado? I am powerless.

When we finally wandered home through the rusty air Boobaby spotted about a dozen dead bumblebees in the backyard, all bunched together by the potting table. Together we wondered what could have happened. Hypothermia? Lack of food? Some sort of insect tontine?

It’s impossibly early in the year, but I choose to believe that these poor souls have already deposited their eggs in little burrows they’ve dug in our tiny backyard, after supplying them with the rich honeypots the larvae will use to survive San Francisco’s summer freeze.

That’s what I tell Boobaby, anyway, and it cheers me up a little. Putting the best face on things might be my chief skill as a parent — or even as a person.