Friday, October 21, 2016

Bees and Butterflies by Selma Lagerlof
He had not wandered far before he perceived an extraordinarily strong smell of honey. It came from the little flowering plants that covered the ground. They grew on slender stalks, had light green, shiny leaves, which were beautifully veined, and at the top a little spike, thickly set with white flowers. Their petals were of the tiniest, but from among them pushed up a little brush of stamens, whose pollen-filled heads trembled on white filaments. Reor thought, as he went among them, that those flowers, which stood alone and unnoticed in the darkness of the forest, were sending out message after message, summons upon summons. The strong, sweet fragrance of the honey was their cry; it spread the knowledge of their existence far away among the trees and high up towards the clouds. But there was something melancholy in the heavy perfume. The flowers had filled their cups and spread their table in expectation of their winged guests, but none came. They pined to death in the deep loneliness of the dark, windless forest thicket. They seemed to wish to cry and lament that the beautiful butterflies did not come and visit them. Where the flowers grew thickest, he thought that they sang together a monotonous song. "Come, fair guests, come to-day, for to-morrow we are dead, to-morrow we lie dead on the dried leaves."
Reor was permitted to see the joyous close of the flower adventure. He felt behind him a flutter as of the lightest wind and saw a white butterfly flitting about in the dimness between the thick trunks. He flew hither and thither in an uneasy quest, as if uncertain of the way. Nor was he alone; butterfly after butterfly glimmered in the darkness, until at last there was a host of white-winged honey seekers. But the first was the leader, and he found the flowers, guided by their fragrance. After him the whole butterfly host came storming. It threw itself down among the longing flowers, as the conqueror throws himself on his booty. Like a snowfall of white wings it sank down over them. And there was feasting and drinking on every flowercluster. The woods were full of silent rejoicing.
Reor went on, but now the honey-sweet fragrance seemed to follow him wherever he went. And he felt that in the wood was hidden a longing, stronger than that of the flowers, that something there drew him to itself, just as the flowers lured the butterflies. He went forward with a quiet joy in his heart, as if he was expecting a great, unknown happiness. His only fear was lest he should not be able to find the way to that which longed for him.
Let the apiary be near the house; and when the bees fly out, when the windows are opened, make a suffumigation of thyme and of cneorum'; for by the smell you will draw them into the apiary, being attracted by the fragrance of the flowers; for when you make a fumigation of these things, you will easily bring them in; for bees like fragrance and flowers, which, as they fabricate honey, they ought to do.
Agricultural pursuits
By Charles C. Miller Memorial Apicultural Library
by Mary Gladys Meredith Web
The whole earth is a thurible heaped with incense, afire with the divine, yet not consumed. This is the most spiritual of earth's joys – too subtle for analysis, mysteriously connected with light and with whiteness, for white flowers are sweetest – yet it penetrates the physical being to its depths. Here is a symbol of the material value of spiritual things. If we washed our souls in these healing perfumes as often as we wash our hands, our lives would be infinitely more wholesome. The old herbalists were wise in their simplicity in the making of marigold potions, medicaments of herbs, soothing unguents from melilot and musk-mallow, elecampane and agrimony, pillows for the sick from rosemary and basil, beech-leaf mattresses for the weary – for these things cleanse the whole being. "Golden saxifrage for melancholy, blue vervain for working magic cures," said the old physicians; and still the shining saxifrage shames the discontented, and the rare blue vervain diffuses magic. The pasque-flower – dark purple, sun-hearted, with its symbolism of the old grief and the young joy that the Christian mystic puts into the word Easter – was given for cataract: it cures a darkness worse than that of the eyes. The Arabs give a fusion of roses for phthisis; the aconite, under her cold, slaty roof, keeps a simple for fevers; from the pink cistus, with its heart of five flames, comes the merciful labdanum. Such things are a cordial for body and soul.
A thousand homely plants send out their oils and resins from the still places where they are in touch with vast forces, to heal men of their foulness. They link the places that humanity has made so chokingly dusty with the life-giving airs of the ambrosial meadows – bringing women's heads round quickly and setting people smiling.
Not once only, but every year, the fair young body of the wild rose hangs upon the thorn, redeeming us through wonder, and crying across the fetid haunts of the money-grubbers with volatile sweetness – "Father . . . they know not what they do."