Bee Nine

In the dining room one-year-old Anne sat quietly in her mother’s arms listening to the song being sung to her. The minute Niki ended with, “B-I-N-G-O…and Bingo was his name OH!” Anne slithered off my daughter’s lap to the floor. She wandered into the kitchen where I stood by the sink washing the cabbage shredder.

Anne said, “Oh! Blmenamp?” and wrapped her arms around my legs. Wondering what she had asked, I looked down at her and smiled. She looked up and lifted her arms to indicate that she wanted to be picked up. Feeling tall as a giant redwood, I leaned down and gathered her small, soft body into my arms. Cheek to cheek with Anne, I breathed in the faint scent of baby shampoo and gave her a long, steady hug. She put her head down on my shoulder as if to accept the love I was giving.

A moment later Anne was ready to move on. She squirmed down out of my arms and toddled off. Opening one of my kitchen cupboards, she reached in and pulled out a bottle of pancake syrup and carried it into the dining room. When she saw Barry, our big fat content black and white cat stretched out under the table, Anne dropped the bottle and forgot all about it.

Barry didn’t jump up to run away like our younger cats do. In fact, there seemed to be a smile on his face as he watched her approach. Anne leaned over the patient old pussycat, and put her head against his. Sitting up, she saw his nice, big, black tail, and reached out and grabbed it. Barry rose to his feet and began to rub back and forth on her, making injurious tail pulling impossible.

“What a good kitty!” Turning to Niki I said, “I’m going outside now. As soon as I cut the outer leaves off the cabbage from my garden, let’s start making our sauerkraut.”

Half an hour later I carried the shredder, two towels, and a folding chair down the basement steps. Niki followed with Anne in her arms, asking, “What part of the basement are we going to use?”

Setting my load down near the foot of the stairs I answered, “The new side. I swept and cleaned it the other day. This morning I lined our crock with the huge food grade plastic bags that I got from the cheese factory.” Placing Anne on her feet next to me, Niki went back upstairs to get the basket filled with my pale, damp heads of cabbage, and a pail of salt

Anne stood motionless where her mother had put her down. She stared up at the open rafters, and at the gray cement walls. On the far side of the room, two narrow windows let in a wedge of pale October sunshine. To my surprise…I noticed that there was something littering my clean floor. The ‘litter’ turned out to be huge, furry bumblebees. I exclaimed, “Where in the world did THESE come from?”

Niki appeared at my side and asked, “HOW did they get in?”

The windows were shut and the screens intact. I frowned and reached for my broom and dustpan. There were two, four, six, EIGHT bumblebees! Two or three were still alive, and groggily crawling around on the cold, cement floor. I scooped them up and disposed of them.

For the next hour or two we pushed the heads of cabbage back and forth over the shredder, sprinkled salt, and crushed the small bits of cabbage deep into the crock with our fists. Every once in a while a chunk of cabbage would get away from us and bounce onto the floor. Anne would pick it up, and walk around holding the cold, wet piece, watching us with curiosity.

While getting the last head of cabbage from the basket, I happened to notice yet another, dead, giant bumblebee on the floor near the staircase. I said, “Oh look! There’s bee nine!” With a laugh I added, “I sound like I’m playing Bingo!”

“B-I-N-G-O…and Bingo was his name, OH!” My memory of the song that Niki sang to Anne before we started ran through my mind. I said, “You know…Bee Nine would make an interesting title for a story.”

Niki said teasingly with a sigh, “Oh no! I can feel a column coming on!”

I laughed and said, “BINGO!”

 

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