Pool Bees

The warmth of the sun is over for the day.  The kiddie pool is now in the shade.  No sun and shadow places on the cement, just dark spots of water where kids once stood.   Marks of hesitation here, an in-out action over there, returns to the pool where some kid remembered where he or she left his or her new goggles.

A boy jumps into the pool.  His buzzed hair stands on end.  He calls out one word.

“Bees!”  Then the boy drops to his knees, his head underwater, under the floating bee he swims away.

S., my son, 4, waits until the boy comes up, asks him, “What’s your name?”

Then S. calls back to me, “Mom!  Michael’s not being nice.”

A comment I take with a grain of salt, as I did not see what transpired between the boys.

Tyler, the lifeguard calls over to Michael, “Let’s try to save the bee.  Bring it over here.”

S. joins the boy in the work of pushing the insect.  They make a ‘V’ with the edge of a rubber fish and kickboard in the water.   At the far side of the pool Tyler the lifeguard kneels waiting for them.  His hands, a scoop, Tyler catches the bug in his cupped palms, sets the bee down on the cement in front of him.

I hear snippets of conversation between Tyler and the boys who look on.

“Let’s see if the bee dries out.” Tyler says to them, “Maybe there are other bees in the pool we can save.”

This is a new idea from the usual smash games my son plays with bugs.

The temperature is dropping I put my jacket on over my shirt.  Tyler stands, walks over to the pool steps.   The boys watch the lifeguard enter the pool to look for more bees fallen from the sky.  A breeze lifts the page in my book.  Tyler takes his time, his long board shorts wick up pool water.  Cherry red turns blood crimson from the lifeguard’s knees halfway to his waist.  His hands trawl in front of him.  S. and Michael watch.  The work is slow, deliberate, studied, important, almost solemn, borders on intimate.  A strange comfort for me, one I cannot explain.  I watch my son witness the harvest of bees.

I fight a reminiscence there might be men who are not afraid to be gentle in public.  Gentle in front of other men, no weirdness, just goodness.  Gentle in front of men who are boys.  A church feeling, I feel I should light a candle for, warms me, for our great good luck at having Tyler as our lifeguard, the St. Francis of the Bees.

The Yello-phant

The blasting windstorm of three nights ago smashed my canyon garden.  All around me, primrose and poinsettia lay on my drive.  Rolling up my sleeves, I fished my Christmas decorations from my neighbor’s bushes, walked up the cul-de-sac above my house to see the destruction was the same.   Street after street palm fronds and branches thrown to the gutter making for a long tassel for our foothill mountain.

Around the corner I saw the pale yellow house where all was calm.  A giant rock of a house built circa 1916, built to outlast a firestorm, Christmas was still on.  Out on the lawn still stood inflatable Mr. and Mrs. Santas, elves, snow globes, and toy soldiers.  Ornaments that replaced last week’s pumped up pumpkins, air turkey, and, earlier this year’s Easter Bunny, leprechaun and ‘ye ol’ pots o’ gold.’

To each his own I figured.  The people of  the ‘yello-phant’ must just keep a close eye on the holiday calendar.   A house calendar that spurred me forward as I sped past and watched the owner’s keep up with the holiday paces.  By December 1st, I knew from every uncurtained window behind the unhedged fence the stilled parade of Christmas would begin.  Electric candles, faux pine wreaths and trees, and streamers just the beginning.  Porch grotesques would be coordinated with stiff rainbows out on the lawn, pinwheels that sparkled and talked would be jammed into the pots of summer’s plastic geraniums.

Year-round rip stop nylon that swayed drunk most evenings I drove by.  Holiday stuff that wouldn’t cheer forever.  By morning, across the grass lay the body of evidence, the ugly un-inflated that hid in plain sight.

Could I call the cops on the mayhem mid-September still on my mind?  My memory of the two grey bulbous figures pulsating with ballooning infants on the porch as my car idled at the corner stop sign while I tried to figure the scene out.  Oh, yes, Grandparents Day was upon us.

I wondered where the owners kept the stuff.  I admired their archiving.  My stuff barometer at full tilt at home.  The accumulation of which I began to hate the keeping of, the remembering where I put it, the plastication stuffified days seeping into my consciousness.   A simple orange and pine garland sounded so fresh and plenty enough.  Maybe a simple bay wreath from the yard.  Holly, willow, olive, boxwood for the mantle.

Anyway, Valentine’s Day would be here soon enough.  A time for love, a time for change.  I tried to remember last year’s display at the corner house.  Oh yes, pink hearts, gushing cupids, arrows, trumpets, a day maybe to make a peace sign with hearts and flowers, a kid chain out of crayons and paper, and drive down a different road.

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