The pumpkins and summer squash are blooming in the garden, and the squash bees (Peponapis sp.) are doing their bee-best to gather as much pollen as they can. This species of native solitary bees specializes in curcubit blossoms: zucchini and butternut squash, pumpkins, and gourds, among others.
I took this photo just after seven one morning, when my zucchini blossoms were busy with bees. Peponapis are early risers, often getting up before dawn to get to the blossoms as soon as they're open for business in the morning. Unlike honeybees, these are ground-nesting insects: the females dig tiny tunnels and deposit their eggs with balls of pollen to feed the emerging bees. The males hang out, flitting around, looking for an unclaimed, unmated female. (Wonder how they detect that a particular female is already off-limits.) The job done, they crawl into an open blossom to sleep it off until the next day. Their territories are smaller than those of honeybees, and the chances are good that if you plant squash, they will come--especially if you plant every year. Of course, if you want squash bees--or any species of bee, for that matter, lay off the insecticide.
Garden report. I've dug the Yukon Gold potatoes (the Reddale are still in the ground). Our spring season is short, so they're small and there aren't a lot of them, but they're wonderfully tasty. Potato salad for supper tonight! We've been eating fresh peas and I've put a couple of gallons in the freezer. The zukes are coming on, and the cherry and Porter tomatoes. This morning, I planted three varieties of Southern peas: Knuckle purple pod, White acre, and Mississippi silver. Also planted more Malabar spinach, which does so well in our hot, humid summers. We got nearly three inches of rain earlier this week (glory be!) and the sweet corn (while not quite as high as an elephant's eye) is stretching up and up.
Book report. I've been sidetracked by computer issues: I have a new laptop and it's taking a while to set it up to run parallel with the desktop. But now that the April book travel is over, I'm writing more regularly and have about 25,000 words on The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose--nearly 30% of the book. Lots of rich plot/character material, and I love the period (this book is set in 1931).
What I'm reading and thinking about. As has been true for several years now, climate change and resource depletions are my major reading areas--and reading is a major part of my life. I'm working my way through Living in Denial: Climate Change, Emotions, and Everyday Life, by Kari Norgaard: very good, but fairly academic. As I read, I'm thinking of the many ways Norgaard's findings apply to the huge problem of oil depletion, which we'll be facing soon (the International Energy Agency now acknowledges that "peak oil" occurred in 2006, so we're on the down-slope of Hubbert's Peak, one of the reasons why we're looking at $4 gas. Finished and reviewed Life Rules, by Ellen LaConte, also good. Last night, I stumbled on John McPhee's wonderful 1988 New Yorker essay, "The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya," on the challenges that people in Louisiana--especially in the Atchafalaya (rhymes with jambalaya) River Basin--are facing and stayed up late to finish it. I'm a long-time fan of McPhee's writing, and this one was full of information that's deeply relevant to this morning's sad news of flooding. On a lighter note: I don't read much fiction these days, but I hugely enjoyed listening to the audiobook of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
A longish post, but I missed last week (computer issues), so I'm catching up. Missed doing last week's issue of "All About Thyme," as well--but next Monday's edition is already finished. So watch for it in your in-box.
Reading note. There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.--Linda Hogan