Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Grain of Sand

I was pedaling down by the south drawbridge last week, on my way home from a morning swim. . . .

In the middle of the busy beach road up ahead I could see what looked like a bird of prey about to eat a baby turtle (the latter are now hatching on this island and the former are thus plentiful). As I got closer I realized that it wasn’t an osprey, frigate bird or heron about to eat a baby loggerhead, but instead a mother duck trying to coax her tiny baby from the road. Since there are so many young and dumb humans speeding on the road I didn’t want to take any chances. I laid my bike down on the path and quickly herded the baby to his mom who was by now waiting near some backwater. Anyway, after my feat of derring-do I got the “thumbs up” and horn honks from folks grateful for what I did. One feels a bit like a cowboy on a white horse during such moments.

Odd. The day before Michelle and I had witnessed something similar. In this case, though, there was no audience present to view the tiny drama, no one to see but she, me and a bee.

It so happened that the day before the duck encounter my French/Russian wife and I were swimming at our beach across the road from this place. Actually, there's no "swimming" to it; we merely loll on our floating chairs in belly-deep water. The blue Gulf was neither choppy or flat, just gently rolling, and soothing.

After a half hour or so, I noticed Michelle dipping something from the water and then placing it on her chair arm. It was a honey bee. He, of course, was long since dead and so he just lay there in the sun, small and unmoving. Without saying a word, Michelle watched the tiny insect for a very long time.

My wife has a fondness for bees. Once upon a time her dad--like my dad--kept bees. Michelle remembers how much her dad—a professional welder--enjoyed tending to his little tribe of bees when he returned from numerous jobs across the continent. He loved and admired those busy little troopers; their tireless work gave him pounds of thick honey. One cold, cruel winter, his bees froze to death. Strong, tough man that he was, her dad quietly cried over the loss. He knew how hard these thrifty little creatures worked for their fare. He felt that he was responsible for the disaster; felt that he should have wrapped the hives in more insulation. The daughter learned to love honey bees by watching the kindness and patience of the father.

Michelle and I continued to loll in the water, drifting about as before. But I noticed that my wife had grown quiet and remote, as if thinking back to another point in her life. Neither of us spoke for quite some time. Although I could not see her face I sensed that she was tearing up.

Then, Michelle suddenly broke the silence.

“I think I saw his leg move. . . ,” she yelled over to me. “I think he’s still alive.”

“Aw, come on. He’s been dead for an hour or more,” I said with doubt in my voice. “It was probably just the wind blowing on his wings.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Michelle continued as she stared at the tiny thing. “Look! Another leg is moving. He is alive!”

By this time I had paddled over to get a closer look.

“Well I’ll be damned,” I muttered. "You’re right.  Good golly!”

Carefully, Michelle made her way to shore. Finding a sea shell, she delicately placed the bee inside, then walked beyond the beach to some weeds and bushes. There, in the sun, she safely placed her tiny patient until he could fully recover.

I, of course, was very proud of my wife. She had not given up, though the world would have. Miracles come in all shapes and sizes. Miracles can be as big as the universe or as small as a grain of sand.


Puppy of the Day