I’m not sure what jolted me awake in the depths of night but there I sat. It was quiet. Amazingly quiet. There were none of the lawn mowers or chirping birds that usually hurl their unwanted sound waves into my ears. Not even a stray car engine. Or even the wind. Nothing.
It was perfectly quiet.
Suddenly off in the distance I could hear the lonely whistle of a passing train. Could that be right? The nearest train tracks were nearly a hundred miles away. I listened as the Doppler Effect slowly lowered the pitch until is faded completely and it was once again silent.
What was that line from Ernie Souchak in Continental Divide? It was so quiet you could hear a mouse get a hard-on. I listened a little harder but either all the mice were asleep or there was nothing going on that they found particularly arousing.
Knowing as I do that the human ear can distinguish air particles being disturbed one billionth of a centimeter I realized how rare an evening like this was. This thought being interrupted by someone setting off fireworks… in Europe. Probably Spain if I had to guess. Crazy Spaniards.
Except for the brief rumbling call of a Blue Whale a few minutes later I spent some quality quiet time thinking. The very definition of undisturbed.
I was thinking about my friend the giant bee. I have this bee, if that’s what it really is, that lives somewhere in my backyard. He flies around my deck all day chasing any other insect away for reasons I’m not completely clear on. Whatever the reason, if any winged creature dares to invade the air-space around my patio furniture or grill he hauls ass over and promptly scares them away.
He tried it with me the first time we met but I made it abundantly clear through an impromptu waggle dance I created on the spot that I was much larger and would crush him if he continued with his assault. After that we got along famously. He would literally fly right in front of my face for seconds at a time, hovering inches away from my nose as I got to examine him in detail. The only reason I’m not 100% certain he is a bee is because of his size. He’s huge. He looks like a bee but has the girth of a flying yellow and black cocktail weenie.
So I sit outside with him and watch as he patrols my deck. He is not gifted when it comes to coordination and his attempts at landing are rough at best. He will try to clamor onto a tree branch or the deck railing from time to time but usually will slip off and have to make that little bee ‘I meant to do that’ gesture before buzzing around nonchalantly for awhile and then trying again to land. I’ve never seen him try to gather pollen from a flower or any other such bee-related activities. He seems content to be the Manfred von Richthofen of my backyard.
Which is why I feel a little bad about what I did. Perhaps that is what caused me to sit there wide awake on my pillow when I should have been sound asleep. What I did was this. I saw a few of those really long matches I use to light the grill laying spent on the deck beneath it. I took one and laid it across the top of the railing at a spot that I know my comrade likes to land. I painstakingly laid it where it was precariously balanced. It thrust itself out invitingly but the slightest contact would cause it to fall. So not 2 minutes later the bee comes cruising by and spots it and immediately attempts a landing.
The slightest contact does indeed cause it to fall and clinging to the falling spent match turned prop is my pal the bee. Match and bee hit the deck. I was giddy! I had pranked my Apis Mellifera buddy with complete success. He, of course, was humiliated. He gathered himself up in the way that bees do when they are embarrassed but don’t want to let on and, after stumbling around a bit, took to the air and disappeared around the corner of the house.
Then I felt bad so I went inside and left the deck to him so he didn’t have to face me after looking so dumb.
So then I was laying there in complete silence feeling bad again thinking about it. Finally the stillness was broken by what I thought at first was a dog coughing somewhere but then realized it was just a few pieces of ice and rock in the outer ring of Saturn brushing against each other. I thought it might be rocks in the rings of Jupiter but it didn’t sound that close.