Dean Sees Bees, is Pleased

Every so often I fancy myself an incipient bonsai hobbyist, home repair enthusiast, or beekeeper. The latter pastime, unlikely as it is, is most likely. Bonsai? I know I will go through periods of disinterest, apologies to the late treelings! Home repair? Yeah, maybe I could learn to do a particular job as well as a pro after a few attempts, but I do have things I’d rather do. I’ll stick with waiting until there’s an emergency or other critical need then hire a pro out of exasperation. If I’m going to overpay, having that excuse will be handy. Someday I might just decide that I have too much money and spend lots of it on some kind of kitchen/bathroom remodel. Bee-keeper? Well, that’s something I’ve wanted to be since reading The Hobbit. One of my favorite teachers in high school kept bees, and gave a seminar on it one day in his “humanities” class where they housed some of the nerd children for safe keeping. If I ever do beekeep, I’d mostly be interested in having flow hives, and maybe not actually trying to net honey per se, rather making it one of my humanitarian contributions to ecosystem health. As there are abundant local beekeepers, it might be best to simply include plenty of native bee-friendly plants among the vast native fern-brakes I imagine creating (incipient Deano Pteridospore?) on my plot.

Early in Mid-Atlantic spring, my health walk brought me within gawking distance of a dominating bloom-perfused cherry tree. Stunned out of my usual rambling-space-out loop, I approached until I was also within hearkening distance to some pretty loud buzzing. But where were the bees? Obviously in the tree, but I kept looking and did not espy any, until I did and then they were everywhere, confirming the din explanation. One of those mental glitches reminding us that we do not directly perceive. I walked by days later, with neither bees nor buzz. There had been rain and wind, and maybe it wasn’t as warm. But a few days after that it was warm and calm, the tree abuzz. Again with the where are the bees? bee!, lots of bees!

If I were to keep visiting bee populations and aiming my eyeballs deliberately, I suspect I would gradually achieve “bee eye”, as I have with ferns. As I space out while hiking in the woods, “out of the corner of my eye” I will notice a fern or a fernbrake. Foveal vision is mostly directed at not stumbling, and at motion such as animals and waterfalls, but I probably don’t “see” the fern(s) the way you might think, rather having the emotion of a fern being there before looking and seeing it. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that involuntary eye motions – saccades – are a way of adding information to non-foveal and peripheral vision, such that some class of targets that originally took focused attention to locate and identify gets correlated in a deep neural network, ascending to the class of occurrences that interrupt my attention, as with potential mating targets or predators (though those latter two items are likely more hard wired!).

Note: I do often think of raising ferns as a niche plant nursery gig, but my strengths and desires don’t lie in the direction of operating a business, so niche is where it would have stay. Just to develop the fern propagating tech to deliver hundreds or thousands of plants would leave me with a semi-automated sunroom ready to grow additional specimens: for sale or for the garden. If you know me you won’t be surprised to hear that I imagine chili peppers, tomatillos, and tomatoes as potential crops. Occasionally I fantasize about catfish, and developing recipes for green and red catfish chili dishes. Develop a module that could be enlarged 10´X or more.

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