Spring is an awesome time of year. Snow melts and reveals all the litter that was previously hidden. Gentle breezes blow, only to be replaced by strong winds and prairie gales that whip up sand and dirt that was frozen solid a month or two earlier. The air warms and insects begin appearing: creepy, crawly little things that crunch under the sole of a shoe or buzz around a person’s head as they do their best to be annoying. Then weeds appear – the cursed plants that love to choke out flowers, dominate gardens and spoil unblemished lawns. That’s spring and that’s how I used to see the change in seasons on a bad day or when I was feeling down.
I seldom have those days anymore, but unfortunately some people do. In fact, even irritating creatures such as maple bugs don’t tend to bother me, unless I am dealing with a major infestation. There is nothing quite like a personal visit from a stealthy maple bug to make a person jump while deep in thought or watching television at night. It’s the sudden realization that something is on my neck or going in my ear that really gets a reaction. It is amazing the impact a harmless, little critter can have on an unsuspecting person.
Last week, bees surfaced en masse. It was neat to watch a hedge between 304 and 306 Claustre Avenue begin to flower and fill the air with a fragrant aroma. Bees were soon attracted to the pink blossoms (as in the photograph), especially after Maple Creek received an inch of rain on April 14. I understand the area north of town did not fair as well and that is unfortunate. It certainly is difficult to be patient and positive when moisture – which is in short supply this spring – does not fall everywhere it is needed.
When it comes to bees, I truly enjoy watching them buzz from flower to flower in search of nectar. It’s incredible how such small insects can produce a sweet and healthy product for our consumption. Unfortunately, bee populations remain in trouble which could spell disaster in much of the botanical and agricultural world.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, beekeepers began noticing large numbers of hives dying in the winter of 2005-06. Up to 40 per cent of the hives collapsed as the majority of worker bees left the hive. That figure has remained relatively constant through the years, but improved to a collapse rate of 23 per cent in the winter of 2014-15.
In any case, the tiny pollinators are in trouble and a definitive cause has not been identified. Disease is thought to play a role and the EPA says certain pesticides are also harmful to bees. The EPA web site states, “That’s why we require instructions on the labels of pesticides that are known to be particularly harmful to bees. This is one of the many reasons why everyone must read and follow pesticide label instructions.”
I cannot expound on this subject as I am preparing for a new job. It may seem hard to believe, but I will soon be one of the most disliked people in the area. No, my years of penning a column and naming people publicly have not yet caught up with me. Instead, I have temporary employment that took me east to Wood Mountain last week. The rendezvous point was the reserve south of the village. The small First Nation nestled in rolling hills is peaceful and well maintained, but lacks the energy and excitement associated with youth since most young people have moved away to get jobs. Only a couple of children live on the reserve now and it seemed odd not to see and hear kids playing outside on a beautiful day. The important thing for readers to remember is my new job will be short-lived and I will soon be looking for employment again.
People often ask how I am enjoying retirement and the truth is I am not retired. I left one job and began looking for another. Most of the tasks I perform are on a voluntary basis and that leaves a fiscal shortfall at our house. However, my lack of full-time employment is not a big deal if my wife just finds a second job. Trust me, she doesn’t find any humour in my words. Therefore, anyone who is looking for free publicity in a newspaper column should consider hiring me – just kidding (ha ha, lol, etc.). I have a resume on file, but contact my wife as she will be more than happy to tell you about my many fine attributes and skills (and also provide an update on our children and grandchild).