In fields all across the country, the last wildflowers of the year come into bloom: the white and violet asters, orange beggarticks, burr marigolds, tall goldenrod, zigzag goldenrod and Japanese knotweed.
It may all be too much for the bees. They have been working since the end of April, and the other day when I found a bumblebee motionsless on its side in the middle of a red zinnia, I wondered if it were overworked, drunk with nectar, a debauchee of dew or simply sleepy.
Hesitant to actually touch the insect, I shook the flower lightly, but the bee lay without twitching or buzzing or waving an antenna. The following morning it was gone. A few days later, I found another bumblebee collapsed in another red zinnia. This time I was more persistent; when I stroked its wings, it recovered, got up clumsily and flew away.
I was relieved to see that it had just been resting, apparently indifferent to danger and duty, and I wondered if the world might be less hostile and dangerous than it seemed. I thought that instead of being careless and irresponsible, the bee might have been happy and wise, and that maybe I have been too up tight to indulge like the sleeping insect, in the last of the summer days.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the first week of Early Fall. In the meantime, Learn from the bumblebees: give in to the final days of late summer.