This past week the Beehive has been abuzz (ha ha ha) with preparations for the Blackfly Ball. The inhabitants of the hive are always shifting, coming and going. One leaves and two more come to take their place.
Rosie arrived yesterday after hitching from the West Coast. She, Steph, Althea and I went to visit the Indian tribe on the border of Canada. We went to help Leslie (of Nori harvesting) help her and her partner Fredda make White Pine medicine.
The Indian reservation is located a few miles west of Calais. It's a preserved area belonging to, and maintained by the tribe. We were welcomed warmly by Leslie, Fredda and their friends and family and we set about the day long process of making White Pine salve.
Its creation is simple in theory, but it takes practice and patience to make it correctly. First, you must harvest the White Pine branches in June and strip off the bark. Then you put the stripped bark in large jars full of olive oil. You leave this to steep in a cool place out of direct sunlight for a month until the next full moon, and then you drain the bark and keep the oil. Then you repeat the process twice more, and with each full moon cycle you add more bark.
The result is a potent oil for curing all kinds of ailments; headaches, rashes, skin problems and stress. Even about a year ago, I don't think I would have understood and felt the reverence that this ancient art of medicine deserves. I don't think that things are black and white in this world and I don't believe that if you can't see something, it isn't there. Fredda was telling me about his dreams while we sat round the fire on the edge of the lake. He dreams of remedies and is very matter of fact about them. When he wakes up, he makes them from the plants laid out in his dreams and they work. Leslie says that he's gifted with a very strong third eye, and he sees things others can't.
In the reservation we also harvested Pearly Everlasting - this is a flower that when dried and smoked in a pipe gives the smoker prophetic and way finding dreams...but only if the smoker is female. Sorry fellas! We brought some back to the hive and we'll get together one evening this week to have a sistas smoke session.
After the White Pine gathering and bark stripping, Vicky (a member of the tribe) Steph, Althea, Rosie and I went skinny dipping in the warm lake. Vicky told us all about her beautiful Indian sons ("so biiig, sooo handsome! ") and it was wonderful to hear all about her family. While naked. In a lake.
After a moose burger and fried zucchini (courgettes to you and me) we headed back to the hive for one last big meeting before the Blackfly Ball.
While being in Machias I've been constantly being hounded by mosquitoes and moose flies and when a group of us went to the mountain overlooking the ocean to view the full moon at midnight ( Sophia, Steph, Pam and Rosie) I was eaten alive by the fuckers. Luckily I have a pot of magical White Pine salve from Leslie which has cleared them up.
They've almost all healed now and today ( one day before the Blackfly Ball) a group of new people have arrived. They consist of many "crusties", a subculture identity which describes kids who travel America hitchhiking and train hopping, breaking their wanderings here and there at various collectives to help out for a few weeks before moving on to the next state. One thing that had been mentioned a lot since they arrived is their amazement at how functional and industrious the Beehive is. Apparently, many collectives resemble Daisy's squat in the first episode of Spaced, instead of what the Beehive is and represents - a functioning home of like minded people, with no one in charge and everyone working in the understanding that labour generates wealth, of all kinds.
Everyone has a job to do, and we all have a purpose to our day. If you need to take time out, you go for a walk or head down to the Gay Moose for some non vegan food (amazing lobster rolls) and if you're truly out of control, you head to Skywalkers or Thirsty Moose to swill some beers and discuss the blueberry harvest with the local Machias crew.
The point is, we wake up and if It's you're turn to make lunch, you make it. If it's your turn to clean the bathrooms, you clean them. If it's your turn to organise the library or the costume closet, you do it. If you need a break, you take one. There's no one in charge but everyone is relying on each other to put in the labour required to keep the hive functional and maintain the high standards of the house.
The Bees are also responsible for looking after their own metal health - if you're an introvert, it's your job to make time for yourself in the day. If you need to be alone, you tell people leave you alone, without the worry of hurt feelings. With the arrival of the new bees before the Blackfly Ball, this has become important. With people sleeping in every corner, in the library, at the Grange, down in the parlour, personal time is a prerequisite for being a happy and functioning bee. I tend to walk the Sunrise Trail, making sure to keep an eye out for the odd bear.
The good weather left Machias when I was on the last chapter of Stephen King's 'Misery'. I can picture the exact moment - I was sitting in a small bar overlooking the gateway to East Machias on the Sunrise Trail, and the sun was ferociously hot. I could feel my face and shoulders burning but looking up I could see a huge storm formation coming in. I've never seen a cloud like it. Huge, covering miles of sky and blue and black in colour and the middle of the cloud sagged towards the earth as if it was so full of rainwater it was going to explode.
That evening, the rain came in. Thunder like I've never experienced rattled the windows of the hive and wind and rain howled through the gaps under the doors.
The morning was fresh with the smell of fresh earth but a heavy mist hung over the town which still hasn't lifted as I write, and this is sad because tomorrow is the Blackfly Ball! We've all been pulling together to get everything prepared for the ball - lights have gone up in the park and Knox and Muppet have been recruiting bees to put up structures and booths in the grounds. I've been working making bunting out of old Blackfly Ball posters and some new bees have been making animals to hang from Bad Little Falls Bridge (the waterfall that divides the town and leads to the estuary).
The house still smells like skunk after Ida the dog got skunked full in the face. We've washed everything twice but the house still smells like arsehole. I think I'm getting used to the smell now. I have the vague suspicion that I potentially smell of skunk too - it could be the reason I've been getting strange looks at the coffee shop.
On that note - I'm off to the coffee shop. Until next time friends xx